California governor Gavin Newsom has rejected a bill that would have allowed Los Angeles, Oakland and San Francisco to set up legal drug injection sites that would have allowed citizens to take drugs while under strict supervision.
Newsom expressed concern that the bill would bring “a world of unintended consequences.” He added, “The unlimited number of safe injection sites that this bill would authorize — facilities which could exist well into the later part of this decade — could induce a world of unintended consequences.”
Newson did accept the idea was done with the best intentions but noted that “if done without a strong plan, they could work against this purpose … Worsening drug consumption challenges in these areas is not a risk we can take.”
Supporters of the bill disagree with Newsom and believe that safe injection sites have a track record of saving lives as trained staff are able to intervene and provide medical care in the event of an overdose.
“Each year this legislation is delayed, more people die of drug overdoses,” said state Sen. Scott Wiener, a Democrat from San Francisco who authored the legislation.
Newsom said he was open to looking into drug reduction programs and confirmed he has instructed the Secretary of Health and Human Services to “convene city and county officials to discuss minimum standards and best practices for safe and sustainable overdose prevention programs.”
“I remain open to this discussion when those local officials come back to the Legislature with recommendations for a truly limited pilot program — with comprehensive plans for siting, operations, community partnerships, and fiscal sustainability that demonstrate how these programs will be run safely and effectively,” Newsom said, per Axios.
Opponents of the bill said it would have the opposite affect of reducing drug use. President of the San Francisco Police Officers Association Tracy McCray referred to the safe injection sites as “sanctioned drug dens” and said all they would do is bring “misery and chaos for the residents and businesses forced to be next to these sites.”
Senate GOP Leader Scott Wilk, who wrote to Newsom and asked him to veto the bill, said “People struggling with addiction need help, not a legal place to shoot up.”
Republican Sen. Brian Jones hit out at the bill by saying “Allowing people to get higher than a kite on heroin and other dangerous drugs, then turning them loose afterwards onto the streets is just crazy.”
ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: SFGATE.COM
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