GUADALUPE, Calif. - It's a small box that will hopefully help fight back against a big problem.
"Before too many people were coming to us here to ask us: "Are you disposing medication?" We said no because we didn't have this program before," said Sami Boraie, Owner of Stars Pharmacy in Guadalupe.
Back in June of 2016 the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors passed the Extended Producer Responsibility ordinance to take steps in hopes of reducing the number of opioid abuse cases in our area.
Almost two years later, that ordinance helped get med-project kiosks like these delivered to pharmacies across the county. These kiosks are different than the ones used by the Sheriff's Office.
"Operation Medicine cabinet is paid for by the taxpayer. This Med Project is paid for by the producers," explained Larry Fay, Environmental Health Services Director for Santa Barbara County.
That means companies like Merck and Pfizer are now paying to create a space for people to drop off their unwanted or expired medications.
These extra medications are believed to not only contribute to many opioid abuse cases but also can contaminate the environment if they're not disposed of properly.
"The classic disposal of unused, unwanted meds going down the toilet or getting thrown out in the trash introduces those chemicals into the wastewater stream and ultimately released out into the environment," Fay said.
For Boraie, he expects to have a lot of people getting rid of their medications with his new kiosk, telling us: "There's lots of people who take some medication and their doctors change it or some medication stay at home until expired, so there is lots of medication that has to be disposed of safely."
So far there are two other North County locations where these kiosks have been installed - one at the La Joya Pharmacy in Santa Maria and the other at Lompoc Valley Medical Center. For the full list of locations, click here.