A proposed California bill to authorize heroin injection sites in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Oakland, passed its final committee approval earlier this week and heads to the State Assembly.
Senate Bill 57, authored by Sen. Scott Wiener, (D- San Francisco), would authorize cities and counties to establish "safe consumption sites" where addicts could use illegal narcotics under supervision. Those accessing the "hygienic space supervised by trained staff" could consume pre-obtained drugs. Program staff would be trained to administer an "opioid antagonist" in the event of an overdose.
The sites would offer substance use disorder services and referrals to obtain overdose reversal medications. If the Assembly passes the legislation, it will return to the Senate for approval before heading to Democrat Governor Gavin Newsom’s desk.
Under current federal law, it's a felony to operate a space to distribute or use a controlled substance. President Joe Biden co-authored the federal statute as a senator.
But recently, Biden said the law's sentencing disparities between crack and powder cocaine cause racial injustice. This followed revelations regarding his son Hunter's drug use.
California saw more than 5,500 deaths related to opioid overdose in 2020, almost a 70 percent increase from 2019. Overdose deaths have increased 170 percent between 2018 and 2019 in San Francisco, according to Wiener.
Los Angeles County also saw a 48 percent increase in accidental overdose deaths during the first five months of the pandemic (March-July 2020) compared to the same time frame in 2019.
Wiener said on Twitter, "Safe consumption sites are a proven strategy to reduce overdose deaths & infections & help get people into recovery."
Proponents argue supervised heroin injections sites and needle exchanges reduce overdoses, reduce the spread of disease, and cause addicts to seek treatment.
However, according to recent studies and data, these sites do the opposite.
A 2020 study from the Alberta government on the province's Safe Consumption Sites (SCS) f0und sites result in increased calls to police, lack of response from police, increased needle debris on public and private property, increased crime, increased overdose deaths, and minimal amounts of users seeking treatment.
Many cities have essentially decriminalized drug use, because progressive city and district attorneys refuse to prosecute drug crimes.
Last December, former New York City Democrat Mayor Bill de Blasio and the New York City Department of Health ignored federal law and announced the opening of the first legalized heroin injection sites in the US.
An ad campaign on New York City subways last month read, "Don’t be ashamed you are using, be empowered that you are using safely."
The campaign addresses overdose prevention by giving tips on how to safely use illegal and dangerous narcotics.
The White House has embraced the sites under what progressives call "harm reduction." It's also spent the last few months denying the Biden administration has given federal grants to fund the distribution of crack pipes and other drug paraphernalia since the allocations were made public in February.
If the California bill passes, the legislation would enact a five-year pilot program in the participating cities with a sunset date of January 1, 2028. Once the facilities open, officials would collect data to determine how effective they are.