SB 997 (Portantino) Access to Narcan – Support

March 26, 2024

The Honorable Richard D. Roth
Chair, Senate Health Committee
California State Senate
1021 O Street, Room 3310
Sacramento, CA 95814

Subject: Support for Senate Bill 997 (Portantino)

Dear Senator Roth,

Mental Health America of California (MHAC) is pleased to support Senate Bill 997 (Portantino), legislation which would permit middle school and high school students to carry federally approved opioid antagonist medicines, such as Narcan, while they are on campus. Additionally, SB 997 requires middle schools and high schools stock fentanyl testing strips and notify students on the location of the strips.  

MHAC is a peer-run organization leading the state in behavioral health public policy and advocacy since 1957. Our mission is to assist and encourage communities, families and individuals to experience hope, wellness and recovery from mental health and substance use disorder issues through voluntary services that are delivered in their local community with compassion and respect for everyone’s dignity and autonomy.

In response to the rising fatalities from opioid overdoses, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has issued guidelines for fentanyl and opioid overdose prevention, aimed at saving lives. One guideline emphasizes the use of naloxone, a medication that can reverse opioid overdoses.[1] By equipping our youth with naloxone, we can avert needless deaths and educate them about the risks associated with substance use. Additionally, CDPH acknowledges the importance of fentanyl testing strips as a preventive measure to reduce accidental deaths in cases where substances may be laced with fentanyl.  

For these reasons, we support SB 997 (Portantino) and ask for your “Aye” vote. If you have any questions, or if MHAC can provide any assistance on this bill or any other behavioral health legislation, please do not hesitate to contact me or our Interim Public Policy Director, Karen Vicari, at

In Community,

Heidi L. Strunk
President & CEO

[1] Health, D. of P. (n.d.). Fentanyl & Overdose prevention. Fentanyl & Overdose Prevention.