The San Diego County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved a plan to create 22 permanent sites for people to dispose of old, unused prescription medications.
Sheriff William Gore called the abuse of such drugs "an epidemic problem in our community."
Drug abuse prevention specialists say prescription drugs often accumulate in medicine cabinets because people are thinking about the environment and are not sure how to get rid of them. They then become ripe for abuse.
Prescription medications are the third-most common drug of abuse in San Diego County, behind alcohol and marijuana, according to Lorenzo Higley of Communities Against Substance Abuse.
The county last weekend sponsored a prescription drug "Take Back Day" in which 2,000 pounds of pills were collected, according to board President Pam Slater-Price.
While the event was successful, it demonstrated a need for permanent disposal sites, she said.
The supervisors on Tuesday also used eminent domain to resolve a property dispute that was holding up construction of a new women's jail in Santee.
The proposed Las Colinas Women's Detention Facility replacement project includes 15.5 acres of land on which Ryan Companies US held development rights, under a 2003 agreement with the county. Ryan Companies owns a total of 108 acres west of Magnolia Avenue and north of Mission Gorge Road, but it has only developed four acres of it.
The supervisors gave the final go-ahead last year for rebuilding the jail, which is more than 40 years old and severely overcrowded.
April Heinze, the county's director of general services, said Ryan failed to respond to an offer of $25,000 for the 15.5 acres, its appraised value.