SB 997 (Portantino) Access to Narcan – Support

March 15, 2024

The Honorable Josh Newman
Chair, Senate Committee on Education
California State Senate
1021 O Street, Room 6740
Sacramento, CA  95814

Re: Support for Senate Bill 997 (Portantino)

Dear Senator Newman,

The California Youth Empowerment Network (CAYEN) is pleased to support SB 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 to stock fentanyl testing strips and notify students of their location.

CAYEN is a youth-led statewide network comprised of TAY Action Teams and CAYEN Board members which engages, empowers, and represents Transitional Age Youth (TAY), ages 15-26, in mental health advocacy on issues that directly affect TAY. Since CAYEN’s inception in 2006, CAYEN has taken many forms of action to empower TAY in their personal lives and spark progressive change in public policy.  We support the implementation of harm reduction policies that will reduce the use and effects of substance use. SB 997 calls for the implementation of measures to deter the rising rate of opioid related deaths among middle school and high school students. If students are engaging in drugs, the focus is to ensure safe use that avoids potential death from substance use.

Fentanyl, an opioid that proves to be up to 50 times more intense than Heroin, is one of the overarching drugs driving the rate of drug related overdoses in California and the United States.[1] When laced, Fentanyl is undetectable unless a fentanyl test strip is utilized. In the case of an opioid overdose, Naloxone, which is available to purchase over the counter, can help counteract its effects. As reported by the California Department of Public Health, the state of California carries a total of 7,000 opioid related deaths, with Fentanyl being the culprit of 88% of the deaths.[2] LA County reported the highest rates of Fentanyl overdose deaths in impoverished communities.[3]

Senate Bill 997 would allow middle school and high schools to adopt policy guidelines that allow students to carry opioid reversal medication. Additionally, it requires public schools to provide and communicate the access of Fentanyl testing strips. For these reasons we support SB 997 (Portantino) and request your “Aye” vote. If you have any questions, or if CAYEN can provide assistance on this bill or any other behavioral health legislation, please do not hesitate to contact me at


Danny Thirakul
Public Policy Coordinator

[1] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2023b, September 6). Fentanyl facts. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

[2] California Overdose Surveillance Dashboard. Prepared by California Department of Public Health (CDPH – Substance and Addiction Prevention Branch (SAPB). Accessed on 03/11/24.

[3] Data report: Fentanyl overdoses in Los Angeles County. (n.d.).