San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a bill that would create a drug take-back program. If San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee signs the bill into law, the program will become the largest drug take-back program in the country.
Drug take-back programs have grown in popularity for several reasons. Rising prescription drug abuse has led many consumers to want to get rid of their leftover or expired prescriptions before they fall into the wrong hands. Teens and young people are especially likely to abuse drugs found in their own homes.
Unused drugs also pose an environmental problem. Drugs thrown into the trash can leak into the groundwater, polluting water supplies.
Debate Rages Over Who Should Pay to Dispose of Drugs
While the benefits of drug take-back programs have been agreed upon, there has been some debate over how they should be implemented. The programs can be an extra cost for cities that are already strapped for cash.
Many local governments have enacted temporary programs, offering occasional drug take-back days. However, these programs are often inconvenient for residents. Permanent take-back programs would allow residents to get rid of excess drugs at their convenience.
Some lawmakers have requested that pharmaceutical companies provide the funding for these programs. However, the hope that drug companies will take responsibility for their potentially dangerous products may be unrealistic. The drug companies have fought against the use of permanent drug take-back facilities, claiming these facilities could become targets for criminals and drug addicts.
Prescription drug addiction has already claimed thousands of American lives. Drug take-back programs may provide one more tool in the fight to reign in prescription drug abuse. While no one wants to fund these programs, they could save lives. In a city the size of San Francisco, one can imagine how many potential addictions could be avoided if the exposure to powerful and addictive prescription drugs is limited.
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