By Mackenzie Mays
Los Angeles Times
SACRAMENTO >> Following spates of fentanyl overdoses among students, California public schools could be required to provide Narcan on campuses — a nasal spray that can reverse deadly effects of opioids.
The proposal is part of legislation introduced by both Democratic and Republican state lawmakers this week that aims to increase information about the presence of fentanyl on K-12 campuses, which can be fatal and consumed unknowingly when it’s hidden in other drugs such as oxycodone and Adderall.
The Los Angeles Police Department reported that at least seven teenagers overdosed from pills possibly containing fentanyl this year, including a 15-year-old girl who died in September.
In the opening week of the new legislative session, Assemblymember Joe Patterson (R-Rocklin) introduced AB 19, which would require schools in California to have at least two doses of emergency naloxone such as Narcan on campus in case of an overdose.
Patterson, a father of four who was sworn into the state Legislature on Monday, said the issue is bipartisan and he’s faced no opposition to the legislation.
But the details of the proposal — including the undetermined cost — could be tricky. The legislation comes as California is facing an estimated $25-billion budget deficit, and state programs that offer Narcan are already in high demand.
“I do think the state will have an obligation to pay for this in our schools if they’re mandating schools do it,” Patterson said. “It’s not going to be the smallest of costs but it’s definitely a lot cheaper than the health effects associated with being on this drug and saving a life.”
Patterson said he would like Narcan to be on all 10,000-plus K-12 campuses in California but is open to starting with just middle and high schools if needed because of cost and supply constraints. While big districts in Los Angeles, Sacramento and Fresno already stock the medication, not every district has the funds or motivation to do so on their own, Patterson said, and comprehensive, statewide public education is needed.