SACRAMENTO, CA – Two consecutive Democratic governors in California have now rejected bills decriminalizing the use of dangerous illegal drugs like heroin, methamphetamine, and cocaine within state-sponsored medical clinics. Governor Gavin Newsom announced his veto of SB 57, stating that setting up an “unlimited number of safe injection sites” within Oakland, San Francisco, and Los Angeles “could induce a world of unintended consequences.”
Newsom wrote in his veto message that he was open to this legislative idea if it had a “strong plan” that was “truly limited,” but not without assurances that “demonstrate how these programs will be run safely and effectively.” This veto is the second blow this month to efforts by Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) to end the country’s “War on Drugs.” In addition to Newsom’s veto of SB 57, the Assembly Appropriations Committee killed Wiener’s attempt to legalize psychedelic drugs with SB 519.
SB 57 would have allowed state-sponsored sites in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Oakland to let drug addicts bring and consume their illegal drugs, like heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, and fentanyl, with medical personnel on hand to save them if they start overdosing. The centers would have also provided “sterile consumption supplies, providing access or referrals to substance use disorder treatment.” But despite Newsom’s progressive track record, even he realized California voters are skeptical of Senator Wiener’s drug decriminalization schemes.
Former Governor Jerry Brown vetoed a similar bill sponsored by Senators Eggman and Wiener, AB 186, back in 2018.
In his veto message, Brown explained his decision. “Fundamentally, I do not believe that enabling illegal drug use in government-sponsored injection centers — with no corresponding requirement that the user undergo treatment — will reduce drug addiction,” he wrote. “Both incentives and sanctions are needed. One without the other is futile.”
“Our paramount goal must be to reduce the use of illegal drugs and opioids that daily enslaves human beings and wreaks havoc in our communities,” stated Brown. “California has never had enough drug treatment programs and does not have enough now. Residential, outpatient, and case management-all are needed, voluntarily undertaken or coercively imposed by our courts.”
“Enabling illegal and destructive drug use will never work. The community must have the authority and the laws to require compassionate, but effective and mandatory treatment. AB 186 is all carrot and no stick,” he wrote.
In addition to Newsom’s veto of SB 57, the Assembly Appropriations Committee killed Wiener’s attempt to legalize psychedelic drugs like LSD, magic mushrooms, and ecstasy with SB 519 several weeks ago. Wiener saw the bill as the first step to legalize all drugs. “Decriminalizing psychedelics is simply one step in ending the War on Drugs,” Wiener tweeted back in 2020 regarding SB 519. “We ultimately need to decriminalize all drug use and stop putting people in prison for drug use and possession. We’re working on all of this. But for now, let’s get it done with psychedelics.”