Last year, Gov. Newsom vetoed a bill to legalize drug use within state-approved clinics, 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.” Yet, this month San Francisco Mayor London Breed introduced a proposal to embrace them. If approved, San Francisco would defy state and federal laws with the hope Newsom or President Joe Biden won’t have the will to enforce them.
Specifically, Breed is working with Supervisor Hillary Ronen to overturn a city law that prohibits non-profits from establishing safe injection sites, where people can inject drugs in a clean environment under the supervision of people trained to prevent overdoses. Drug addicts can bring and consume their illegal drugs, such as heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, and fentanyl, with medical personnel on hand to save them if they start overdosing.
Despite concerns that they could face state and federal consequences, San Francisco officials say they are moving forward with the sites. Breed says that the sites are part of a “comprehensive strategy” to save lives and reduce open-air drug use.
“The Biden administration and the Newsom administration … are not going to throw San Franciscans in jail or cut off our federal funding because we’re saving lives and stopping open-air drug use,” Supervisor Hillary Ronen told city staffers, per the San Francisco Chronicle.
The state of California is currently experiencing a drug crisis, and the last thing officials should do is enable illegal drug use, as though there is a safe way to take drugs like cocaine, fentanyl, or methamphetamine. Overdoses are one of the leading causes of death in California. The city of San Francisco even declared a state of emergency in December 2021 to combat fentanyl drug overdose deaths.
While officials should make attempts to prevent overdoses, they are required to “first, do no harm,” said California Family Council President Jonathan Keller. “State-sanctioned drug dens would lead to more death and devastation. We should love our neighbors, not surrender them to addiction. As Christians, we believe there is always hope for anyone to change.”
Proponents argue that safe injection sites will prevent the spread of disease, but they will only help drug users feed their addictions. Further, drug use often leads to prolonged homelessness, which is another crisis in California.
The Board of Supervisors will review Ronen and Breed’s bill to overturn the 2020 restriction in the weeks to come. Their plan is both lawless and counterproductive. Instead of offering drug users a place to “safely” use their drugs, California cities should focus on expanding drug treatment programs and requiring that treatment under threat of stiff consequences. Hopefully, San Francisco officials will be held accountable for encouraging the drug crisis.