SAVANAH HERNANDEZ REPORTS: Recovering addicts slam San Francisco's 'harm reduction' services for facilitating use drug use

"At the end there, after I got all of this stuff, all of this paraphernalia that they're basically giving away for free, the most alarming thing was, I asked where I could go to get some help to get clean… and they had no idea."

Savanah Hernandez Texas, US

Former drug users residing in San Francisco are calling out the city's policies regarding "harm reduction" programs that provide addicts with needles, meth pipes, and various other supplies for hard drug use. 

San Francisco local, Ricci Wynne, began dedicating his time to filming the hard drug use in the streets, focusing on the children who are exposed to this activity every single day. As someone who has overcome drug addiction himself, he's also been at the forefront of calling out the city's policies on giving addicts free paraphernalia. 

"The neighborhood has taken a turn for the worse  ever since the 'fentanyl frenzy' as I like to call it, this phenomenon has kind of came out of nowhere and took over for heroin," Wyn began. 

Wynne is currently living in the heart of downtown San Francisco in a high-rise on Mission Street. Despite paying over $2,500 for rent, he shared that homelessness, theft, crime and open drug deals are a regular occurrence outside of the property, where gangs of illegal immigrants control the corners surrounding his building.

"The Hondurans and Guatemalans are not too fond of cameras," he began, pointing toward a corner filled with black-masked individuals, "they control the corners of Mission and 7th and Mission and 8th, so I'm kind of sandwiched in between these two drug markets that have really flourished in the last couple of years." 

He explained how a combination of Proposition 47, the city's sanctuary status, the city's soft-on-crime policies, and "harm reduction" programs have left local shops abandoned to organized retail crime, homeless on every corner, and the streets filled with drug addicts who are being given all of the tools for hard drug use via tax-payer funded non-profits throughout the city. 

"A lot of these people have mental illnesses and other things that they're struggling with, and the city's policies have made the problem worse in my opinion, it's actually enabling some of the drug users as far as their stance on harm reduction," Ricci explained. 

To highlight this exact point, Wyn visited The "Harm Reduction Center" a program of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, where in less than 10 minutes he exited the center with two bags full of paraphernalia.

"I got so much stuff," he shared, holding two black grocery bags, "they gave me a whole box of syringes literally for free, this is all on taxpayer dollars in these non-discreet black bags. You can't even get a plastic straw in San Francisco but they're giving away as many needles as you want," he explained. 

"I have Narcan, I have these sanitary cookers, I have tie offs to tie off your arm," he continued.

He continued pulling various items such as chopsticks out of the bag. "This is a new one that they're giving out, these chopsticks," he shared,  "they said it was a pusher for a glass pipe so you could push your crack inside the pipe more."

After also pulling out tin foil, meth pipes, and straws for fentanyl use, he shared that before leaving with the bags of paraphernalia, he asked the volunteers where he could go for help in getting clean.

"At the end there, after I got all of this stuff, all of this paraphernalia that they're basically giving away for free, the most alarming thing was, I asked where I could go to get some help to get clean… and they had no idea," he finished. 

The city boasts their "harm reduction" program lowers HIV rates and has been implemented to help lower overdose deaths. However, the recently closed Tenderloin Center gives us a real-time example of how millions are being spent to exacerbate the ongoing drug crisis.

The Tenderloin Center, essentially a "safe injection site" where addicts could be monitored while they used drugs, has been closed less than a year after opening after "less than one per cent of visits ended in a 'completed linkage' to behavioral health programs," per the Daily Mail

For example, in the first four months of operation the program referred about 18 out of 23,000 individuals to rehabilitation programs, less than one percent. 

The site was also set up to reduce the amount of overdose deaths in the city, however, overdose death rates slightly went down from 640 in 2021 to 500 in 2022

After visiting the Harm Reduction center, Wyn walked over to Minna Hotel, a hotel housing an abstinence based addiction program run by former addicts. As former users themselves volunteers shared their thoughts on the city's "harm reduction programs" 

"I couldn't get clean like how it is now," one volunteer began. He shared that seeing needles in the streets and people actively using drugs is oftentimes a trigger for those trying to stay clean and the current state that San Francisco is in makes it extremely difficult for addicts to stay clean

"They doing a lot more harm then they is helping them with the harm reduction approach," he continued referencing the city's program.

"We have programs that is completely abstinence based," he shared, "but this particular program here on the corner, it's a collaborative with the department of public health…and the department of public health, they pro-harm reduction," he finished. 

He then explained that one simply needed to look at the addiction filled streets of San Francisco as the best example of what "harm reduction" is doing to the city. 

Wyn then took us to one of the hotels that the local government used to house the homeless during the COVID pandemic. He explained how drug dealers specifically target these areas, knowing that addicts are frequently housed in these areas.

"It became a choke point for the dealers to wait for some of these mentally ill people and some of these people who are struggling with substance abuse problems," he shared, "it gave them a spot to basically poach on them if you will."

This is another example of how the city's lax policies on homelessness and open drug use create a thriving economy for drug dealers to prosper.

Illegal immigrants from Honduras oftentimes make up the gangs that are selling heroin and fentanyl. They utilize the city's sanctuary status as a way to illegally sell drugs without fear of deportation. 

Couple that with an endless flow of drugs via the open border, gang members selling on the streets and Proposition 47, which allows drug addicts to fund their addiction by not prosecuting them for theft under $950 and you have the perfect recipe for crime, lawlessness and drug use to prosper on the streets of San Francisco.


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