Localized Drug Takeback Proposals Spread Statewide through County and Regional Governments

July 3, 2015

Following on the heels of numerous Bay Area counties, county governments in Southern California have now also begun researching their own drug take back ordinances. The counties of Los Angeles and Santa Barbara are utilizing the Bay Area ordinances as highlighted examples to follow in their formal proceedings and staff reports.

The Los Angeles Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a motion in June to “investigate the feasibility of adopting an ordinance similar to the pharmaceutical take-back ordinance adopted by the Counties of Alameda, San Mateo, San Francisco, and Santa Clara.” The original draft of the resolution gave the county four months to report back, but urgency was requested and moved up to 30 days. Just before the July 4 holiday, Los Angeles Director of Public Works Gail Farber released the findings. A new Working Group made up of representative county departments is recommending the proposed drafting and adoption of a drug take back ordinance for Los Angeles County based on the Bay Area’s template. The Board of Supervisors will discuss the recommendations and instruct the Working Group on next steps, which will include a series of meetings and further research over the next several months.

The County of Santa Barbara also unanimously passed a directive to the Public Works Department to research the Bay Area’s ordinances and conduct public outreach. Staffs were instructed to report back to the Board of Supervisors in October with findings and recommendations. Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson, the author of the previous statewide proposals via SB 727 (2013) and SB 1014 (2014) and whose district includes Santa Barbara County, submitted testimony in support of her local county’s pursuit. She stated that the county’s action “will help‚Ķ increase support for a statewide solution.”

A different scenario has taken root in San Luis Obispo County. A regional joint powers agency entitled the Integrated Waste Management Authority (IWMA) — consisting of representative leadership each city within the county and the five county supervisors—unanimously passed an ordinance that mandates retailers to bear the burden of a local drug take back system. This retailer-based take back mandate is unique to this area for now.

In the Bay Area, the Marin County Health Officer has held several stakeholder meetings to discuss the issue. Marin’s Board President has directed the county’s legal counsel to draft the language and bring it back to the Board of Supervisors this summer. With the May decision by the U.S. Supreme Court which allowed Alameda County’s Drug Disposal Ordinance to move forward, counties around the state are beginning to consider their own respective versions, modeled after the ordinances passed in the Bay Area.

CLSA continues to advocate the sector’s perspective on these matters county-by-county. For further details or questions, please contact CLSA’s Associate Director of Government Affairs Reese Isbell at