New law could open safe injection sites for drug users in Oakland, San Francisco

Oakland and San Francisco could soon be home to safe injection sites. 

Oakland and San Francisco may soon be home to safe injection sites, places drug users can use in a protected setting. Both cities would be some of the first on the west coast to adopt the controversial approach to drug use.

Senate bill 57 was passed by the California state legislature earlier this month and would allow for the two Bay Area cities and Los Angeles to open safe sites. According to the bill, drug users would have to bring their own drugs but would be given safe supplies, like clean needles. Professionals trained in reversing overdoses would also be on hand. 

Senate bill 57 was authored by California democratic senator Scott Weiner who said safe consumption sites are a proven model to help people avoid overdose deaths.

"California — like our nation as a whole — is experiencing a dramatic and preventable increase in overdose deaths, and we need every available tool to help people stay alive and get healthy," said Senator Wiener. "This legislation isn’t about whether we want people to use drugs. Rather, it’s an acknowledgment that people are using drugs, and our choice is whether we want to make every effort to help them survive and get healthy. The time has come for California to adopt this proven overdose death prevention strategy."

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San Francisco experienced a record number of overdose deaths in 2020, with 711 deaths. In 2021, 640 people died of overdoses. 

According to Wiener, Over an 18-month study period of Insite, a safe consumption site in Vancouver, 336 overdoses were reported – but in every instance, the person overdosing lived. He said this is because there were trained professionals onsite to administer live-saving treatments like Narcan, and get people emergency help.

 The injection pilot program in the Bay Area would last until 2028.