California cities could create safe drug injection site programs – if Newsom signs new bill


California cities may soon be able to establish safe drug consumption sites under a bill that is heading to Governor Gavin Newsom’s office after authorizing the state Senate on Monday.

Senate Bill 57 allows local jurisdictions to vote to establish injection sites as pilot programs. Proponents say the sites offer a realistic way to reduce overdoses and reduce crime, while opponents argue the legislation would lead to increased drug activity.

Twenty-one senators voted in favour, just enough to send it to the governor for final approval. The measure was introduced by Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco.

“These programs have been running for about 30 years around the world in Europe, Canada and Australia,” Wiener told senators Monday afternoon. “And while there is no silver bullet to the overdose epidemic, it is a proven strategy for reducing overdose deaths.”

The legislation has faced significant backlash, largely from law enforcement who say safe consumption sites do not provide adequate treatment pathways, according to an analysis of the bill.

These objections put an end to similar proposals. Three attempts by Sen. Susan Eggman, D-Stockton, to pass supervised injection sites have failed in recent years. One of the bills was vetoed by the government of the day. Jerry Brown.

Newsom “open” to safe injection driver

newsom said he was “very open” to the law when he ran for governor in 2018, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

“I’m very open to that,” he said during a campaign stop in San Francisco. “I would like to know more about why the Governor vetoed in terms of fabricating what I believe to be a legal argument – ​​so I would like to research that. I’m not attached to the language of the existing bill, but I’m certainly very, very open to a pilot project.

Wiener announced several amendments to the bill since it was last introduced in the Senate. Participating jurisdictions will be required to participate in their pilot program studies, which will examine the impacts of their sites. The bill was also amended to include the city of Los Angeles as an initial pilot site.

New York and Rhode Island already have legislation like SB 57 in place. Several safe injection sites in New York opened last year. the Associated Press reported that the sites hosted 9,500 visits in their first three months, helping to stop more than 150 overdoses.

The US Department of Justice could also legalize safe injection sites at the federal level. While the DOJ under the Trump administration has vehemently opposed the idea, Attorney General Merrick Garland’s Department expressed his openness.

“This legislation is not about whether we want people to use drugs,” Wiener wrote in a press release after the vote. “It’s more of a recognition that people are are using drugs, and our choice is whether we want to do everything we can to help them survive and recover their health. Now is the time for California to adopt this proven strategy to prevent overdose deaths.

Republicans urge Newsom to veto

Republicans immediately urged Newsom to veto SB 57, with the Senate Republican Caucus saying it would “allow multiple California cities to operate drug dens.”

“Instead of focusing on a strategy to help people get their lives back, get off drugs, and get into treatment, California Democrats are focused on providing free needles and a safe place to shoot,” said Senate Republican Leader Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita. , in a report. “This is one of the most dangerous pieces of legislation I’ve seen sent to the governor. Leaving people on the streets in misery, rather than asking them for help, shows no compassion.

The Republican National Committee said SB 57 is an example of California Democrats’ efforts to “dismantle the safety and well-being of Californians,” said RNC spokeswoman Hallie Balch.

“Instead of bolstering our borders, cracking down on crime, or cleaning up our streets by addressing the mental health crisis ravaging the state, they are offering illicit drugs to addicts on a silver platter,” he said. Balch said in a statement.


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