Legal drug sites a step closer in California

Senator Scott Wiener on Thursday announced that the Assembly passed legislation that would authorize safe injection sites in Oakland, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.

SB 57 already passed the state Senate but has to go back for a concurrence vote on amendments made in the Assembly. Then the bill heads to Gov. Gavin Newsom's desk to be signed into law.

SB 57 would legalize, safe injection sites, as pilot programs in San Francisco, Oakland, and Los Angeles up until January 1, 2028.

"Every overdose death is preventable," said Senator Wiener. "We have the tools to end these deaths, get people healthy, and reduce harm for people who use drugs. Right now, we are letting people die on our streets for no reason other than an arbitrary legal prohibition that we need to remove."

The senator's office said San Francisco saw a record number of overdose deaths in 2020 with 711 deaths. In 2021, the number declined slightly with 640 overdose deaths. However, Wiener sad San Francisco is on track to meet or exceed those figures in 2022.

New York was the first U.S. state to roll out supervised drug consumption sites in hopes of combating the growing number of overdose deaths.

The sites are run by trained professionals who provide clean needles, medical services, social services, and can monitor individuals for signs of overdose.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf have shown strong support for safe injection sites and Gov. Newsom has said he is "very, very open" to the concept, according to Politico.

However, some opponents of the bill said safe injection sites would only normalize drug use.