California Bills Would Give Teens a Larger Role in Fentanyl Treatment – GV Wire

Two bills pending in the California Legislature would expand the role of adolescents in addiction and overdose treatment, both for themselves and others.

They are among more than two dozen fentanyl-related bills introduced this year by lawmakers in the Senate and Assembly in recognition of the growing problem that the opioid, which can be deadly when used inappropriately, is for the californians.

Most of those bills, including those introduced by Assemblymen Jim Patterson, R-Fresno, Esmeralda Soria, D-Fresno, and Sen. Shannon Grove, R-Bakersfield, died in committee.

Senate Bill 325, authored by Grove, would have added three to five years in jail or prison for defendants convicted of selling or distributing “rainbow” fentanyl, which is designed to resemble candy and could represent a special damage for children.

Assembly Bill 915, authored by Assemblymen Dr. Joaquin Arambula, D-Fresno, and James Ramos, D-San Bernardino, would require the California Department of Public Health to establish a training and certification program for students of high school in grades 9-12 to learn how to administer naloxone hydrochloride in the event of an opioid overdose. The training program would be established in March 2025, but would be voluntary for schools to implement.

The Assembly passed AB 915 on May 25 by a bipartisan vote of 78-0, with two members not voting.

Isn’t parental consent needed?

Also before the Senate is Assembly Bill 816, authored by Assemblyman Matt Haney, D-San Francisco, which would allow adolescents as young as 16 to independently consent to treatment with buprenorphine, also known as its trade name Suboxone, for opiate addiction.

The US Food and Drug Administration has approved Suboxone for people 16 years and older. Under current state law, adolescents need parental consent to receive opioid treatment, unless they are at least 18 years old.

Under AB 816, mental health professionals who prescribe for adolescents would still have to seek parental consent unless they determine that parental notification is inappropriate or the parents are not a part of the adolescent’s life.

Close supervision essential

Flindt Andersen, founder and president of PAIN (Patients and Addicts in Need) and executive director of the New Perceptions North Treatment Center in Fresno, calls Suboxone “a fantastic drug for detoxification purposes,” but said he’s not a fan of AB 816.

Suboxone requires close supervision because prolonged use can also lead to addiction, Andersen said.

An addict who starts using opioids too soon after stopping Suboxone could end up with an overdose if residual amounts of Suboxone prevent the addict from feeling the expected high, he said.

Suboxone is supposed to be prescribed when addicts are in total withdrawal, but that’s a problem in California because there are only a few facilities here equipped for addicted teens being treated and going through drug withdrawal, he said.

Andersen said he could see some situations where a 16- or 17-year-old should be allowed to consent rather than require parental consent, but “a lot of it would definitely depend on how much or how many opioids they were taking to start, if they were neck deep in their addiction somewhere, and have been using for two or three years.”

As of Monday, AB 816 was pending before the Senate Judiciary Committee, while AB 915 was awaiting assignment from the Senate committee, according to the California Legislation Information website.