A bill to allow Californians to buy an unlimited number of syringes without a prescription is making its way through the legislature.
Health officials said more than three million Americans are infected by Hepatitis C, an infection caused by blood-to-blood contact commonly associated with dirty needles used for drug injections.
Supporters of the bill said they believe expanding access to sterile needles is the best way to stop the spread of diseases.
"We see it as a good public health measure," California Pharmacists Association CEO Jon Roth said. "The cost to treat, for example, a patient with HIV can be upwards of $600,000 or more depending on their life-span. And so simply, providing clean needles is a safe cost-effective way that doesn't contribute to increasing crime but actually helps reduce infectious diseases."
California law enforcement groups opposed the bill, saying studies supporting the bill do not align with their officers' day-to-day experiences.
The bill passed the assembly on a 45-28 vote Thursday, and it now heads to the Senate.