California Injection Sites Law Might Land on Gov. Newsom's Desk John Moore/Getty Images)
By Eric Mack | Sunday, 25 April 2021 09:40 AM
A California law to set up sites that permit injecting heroin is advancing in the state legislature, potentially leaving embattled Democrat Gov. Gavin Newsom to weigh signing it amid a potential recall.
"The Democrats are the party of enablers right now — and at taxpayer expense," state Senate Republican Leader Scott Wilk wrote in a statement, calling the sites "drug dens" Thursday after CA SB 57 (21R) was narrowly approved in the California Senate.
"Instead of robust efforts to help drug addicts, Senate Dems are throwing everyone under the bus in a 'feel good' push with SB 57 to help addicts get drugs rather than housed, healed & back to productive life.#CADeservesBetter"
The injection sites are proposed by progressives to give addicts an option to safely inject illicit drugs under medical supervision. It is proposed it could help curb overdose deaths that have skyrocketed in places like California, which had seen its overdose deaths surge 40% last year, Politico reported.
Republicans and conservatives argue it normalizes dangerous drug use.
Gov. Newsom had said he was "very, very open" to the idea.
"California and our nation are in the midst of an unprecedented explosion of overdose deaths," San Francisco Democrat Scott Wiener said Thursday on the state Senate floor. It's a public health crisis. What we're doing is not working."
Other liberal states are making similar cases for heroin injection sites, like New York, Illinois, and Rhode Island, Politico reported.
"The threat of federal enforcement is one of the greatest disincentives to opening and operating these lifesaving programs in San Francisco and elsewhere, and we ask that you end that threat," San Francisco Mayor London Breed wrote in a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland, which was also signed by city leaders from Oakland, New York. Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Somerville, Massachusetts.
The Trump administration Justice Department had vowed "swift and aggressive action" against localities permitting these sites, stopping Philadelphia just short of opening one with a lawsuit, according to Politico.
"Our hope is that the Biden administration will simply withdraw the Trump lawsuit and let us do what we need to do to fight the overdose crisis in our communities," Wiener told Politico.
But the measure has opponents even on the left in California, including Assemblymember Rudy Salas of Central Valley.
"I do not believe that opening sites to allow hard drug use is the best use of taxpayer resources," Salas wrote to Politico in an email. "I would rather see increased investment in mental health and substance abuse treatment to get people off of drugs and off of the streets."