LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Safe houses where heroin and other illegal drug users can access sterile supplies and be under the supervision of a doctor are a step closer to reality in California.

Assembly Bill 186 by Assemblywoman Susan Eggman, D-Stockton, would establish facilities in eight California counties where people could use controlled substances under the supervision of staff trained to prevent overdoses and refer people to drug treatments and housing.

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“We are in the midst of an epidemic, and this bill will grant us another tool to fight it – to provide better access to services like treatment and counseling, to better protect public health and safety, and to save lives,” Eggman said in a statement.

The idea is modeled after a site in Canada, where people can use drugs like heroin with sterile supplies and a doctor standing by. The Vancouver facility claims it has prevented 6,400 overdoses in 13 years and placed more than 4,500 people into treatment.

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The bill passed in the Assembly last month, and even won the support of two Republicans. On Wednesday, it was approved by the Senate health committee.

Drug overdose is now the leading cause of accidental death in California and nationwide, according to Eggman. Injection drug use is associated with higher rates of overdose and the transmission of infectious diseases, including HIV and viral hepatitis.

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Similar legislation has been introduced in Maryland, Massachusetts, and New York.