San Francisco may open injection sites for heroin addicts

City leaders in San Francisco are considering a potentially controversial idea to allow drug users a site for safe injection.

Board of Supervisors President London Breed is calling for a task force to study whether the city should open a drug injection site, where addicts can go to shoot up, but would also have access to counseling.

Standing outside San Francisco's main public library Tuesday, Chris, a 26-year-old heroin addict, who did not give his last name; told KTVU he shoots up at least twice a day.

"If you are sick enough, you are going to do it in the middle of the sidewalk where everybody is walking by,” he said.

Although he says he puts his used needles in a plastic container, not all addicts do.

Throughout much of San Francisco, dirty needles have become a disturbing part of the urban landscape.

"What we are doing is just not working," said Breed.
A drug-injection site has never been tried before in the United States.

It would allow addicts to inject drugs in a designated place where counselors and health officers would be on hand. No potential sites have been determined.

"We need to look at whether or not we should try this because it could possibly help," said Breed.

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee had worried such an idea would enable addiction in a city funded place. But he says he is warming up to the idea.

"If I have health experts on site, then it is not about free injections. They are about reducing harm on a long term sustainable basis. That is what I am supportive of," said Lee.

But perhaps the biggest supporters are the addicts themselves.

"I can do my drug, feel comfortable and talk to a counselor. Half the trouble with counselors is that am not comfortable," said Chris.

The board of supervisors would have to approve the idea. Breed says if the city decides to try opening an injection site, it could happen as soon as by the end of the year.