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California court upholds drug treatment program

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Nov. 30, 2009

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California physicians said a recent appeals court ruling preserves a voter-approved initiative allowing nonviolent drug offenders to enroll in community-based rehabilitation programs instead of facing jail sentences.

California's 1st District Court of Appeal on Nov. 5 invalidated a 2006 law permitting judges to incarcerate people who have drug relapses during treatment, saying the statute undermined the voter-backed Substance Abuse and Crime Prevention Act.

Physicians worried the law, if upheld, would have hurt the effectiveness of rehabilitation programs if courts -- not medical professionals -- could interrupt participants' treatment because of a relapse, according to a friend-of-the-court brief filed by the California Medical Assn.

At this article's deadline, the state, which supported the 2006 law, did not return calls seeking comment on the possibility of a further appeal in Gardner v. Schwarzenegger.

Note: This item originally appeared at http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2009/11/30/prbf1130.htm.

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