"They're acting like I should think of their offer as Christmas come early," he said, adding that if the lobbyists don't agree to funding a drug-return program, he'll attempt to gather enough votes for a veto-proof board majority.

Returning old drugs may seem like a trivial issue. But it's important to environmental groups such as the Sierra Club, because many flushed medicines can't be filtered from the water supply. Drugs tend to leach through landfills, possibly into groundwater. If expired drugs simply pile up in medicine cabinets, as is often the case, kids can get them.

Mayor Gavin Newsom has endorsed the concept of "extended producer responsibility," the notion that manufacturers need to take cradle-to-grave responsibility for products that end up as toxic garbage. But Mirkarimi said Newsom's staffers told him the mayor would veto the drug-return bill. Newsom spokesman Tony Winnicker did not return a call requesting comment by press time.

Before Newsom starts his new job as lieutenant governor, he could leave San Francisco with a legacy as a politician who stood up to Big Pharma.

"They're bringing their blazing corporate guns and lobbying tactics on to little old San Francisco, just as they've done in other states, all because we're asking them to help pay for a bucket with a lid that's regulated, so that people can properly dispose of their pharmaceuticals," Mirkarimi says. "If that's such a big threat to them, then their arrogance speaks for itself."

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