RE: Proposed Ordinance NO. NS-XXX amending the Santa Ana Municipal Code (Health and Sanitation) prohibiting syringe exchange programs in the City of Santa Ana

7 Pages Posted: 23 Sep 2020 Last revised: 12 Oct 2020

See all articles by Leo Beletsky

Leo Beletsky

Northeastern University - School of Law; Northeastern University - Bouvé College of Health Sciences; Division of Infectious Disease and Global Public Health, UCSD School of Medicine

Amy Judd Lieberman

Harm Reduction Legal Project, Network for Public Health Law

Corey S. Davis

Network for Public Health Law

Rafik Nader Wahbi

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - Department of Community Health Sciences

Date Written: September 15, 2020

Abstract

The continuing crisis of opioid-related harm poses a threat to the health and lives of thousands of individuals with Substance Use Disorder (SUD). To ensure that these risks are mitigated in Santa Ana, we urge the Santa Ana City Council to reject the proposed ordinance adding article XV Syringe exchange programs (SEPs) to chapter 18 of the Santa Ana Municipal code.

The primary concern of the City Council relates to discarded syringes in the community. We share this concern. The solution, however, is not to ban SEPs; rather, the City should draw on best available evidence to address this community challenge, including the deployment of syringe services in a way that have helped other jurisdictions effectively reduce syringe litter. This proposed ordinance would aggravate the very problem it is purporting to solve.

Further, the proposed ordinance is not just bad public health policy; it may also be bad law. Should the City Council move forward with this ordinance, it might expose Santa Ana taxpayers to litigation on several fronts, including claims for violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (RA), and the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution. In recent years, courts have struck down numerous local ordinances targeting SUD treatment facilities and their clients as discriminatory under the ADA and the RA; similar analysis is applicable to syringe exchange programs.

Keywords: Substance Use Disorder, SUD, Santa Ana

Suggested Citation

Beletsky, Leo and Judd Lieberman, Amy and Davis, Corey S. and Wahbi, Rafik, RE: Proposed Ordinance NO. NS-XXX amending the Santa Ana Municipal Code (Health and Sanitation) prohibiting syringe exchange programs in the City of Santa Ana (September 15, 2020). Northeastern University School of Law Research Paper No. 389-2020, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3694563

Leo Beletsky (Contact Author)

Northeastern University - School of Law; Northeastern University - Bouvé College of Health Sciences ( email )

416 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA 02115
United States
617-373-5540 (Phone)

Division of Infectious Disease and Global Public Health, UCSD School of Medicine ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
MC 0507
La Jolla, CA 92093
United States

Amy Judd Lieberman

Harm Reduction Legal Project, Network for Public Health Law ( email )

3701 Wilshire Blvd, Suite #750
Los Angeles, CA 90010
United States

Corey S. Davis

Network for Public Health Law ( email )

Saint Paul, MN
United States

Rafik Wahbi

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - Department of Community Health Sciences ( email )

650 Charles E. Young Drive South, 36-071 CHS
Box 951772
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1772
United States

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