On Monday, Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democratic California Governor, vetoed legislation that would have legalized “safe consumption areas” in Los Angeles and San Francisco. The safe consumption site, or also “safe injection site,” is a place where illegal drugs can be used in a clean area. There are staff members who can administer drugs like Naloxone to quickly treat overdoses. The legislation’s supporters argue the site is an effective harm reduction tool. They help to reduce overdose deaths and spread certain diseases like HIV.
“Safe injections sites are not intended to solve a drug addiction problem. They are meant to decrease the chance of someone dying.” Reason’sScott Shackford had written after the bill was passed by the state Legislature in early February.
They have proven to be extremely effective in legal safe consumption areas. One safe consumption site, located in Vancouver, Canada has witnessed more than 3 million drug injections since 2003. The site’s staff dealt with 6,440 cases of overdoses without any deaths. The site was able to prevent 51 deaths according to a study that examined its operations between 2004 and 2008. NPR reported that there was no rise in drug consumption in the vicinity.
“Safe consumption sites have been in operation around the world for approximately 30 years, with great success and literally zero overdose deaths,” state Sen. Scott Wiener (D–San Francisco), who originally introduced the bill, told CBS Bay Area. This is a well-researched strategy that reduces overdose deaths, the pressure on emergency rooms and public drug abuse, and expands access to medication.
Newsom appears to be unsure that the safe use of drugs sites is a good idea for state drug users. Newsom stated that he has supported harm reduction strategies for a long time. statementHis veto was explained. “However I am deeply concerned about operations of safe injecting sites without strong and engaged local leadership and well documented, vetted and thought operational and suitability planning.” Newsom further expressed concerns that the bill could lead to “a world of unintended consequences… worsening drug consumption challenges in [Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Oakland]This is not an option.
Geoffroy Lawrence (Managing Director of Drug Policy at Reason Foundation, the nonprofit which publishes this site), says that it is extremely frustrating that safe injection sites continue to face resistance from the federal and states. Reason. Safe injection sites might sound strange to many people, but they are proven to be an effective way to fight addiction. Other countries’ results have demonstrated that safe injections sites result in a decrease in deaths from overdoses and in transmission of infections, and increase the number of people seeking recovery.
Newsom might have been preparing to run for the presidency in 2024, so it is possible that he vetoed this bill. Newsom placed political advertisements on Florida television stations criticizing Republican Florida governors. Ron DeSantis is also considered a potential presidential candidate. Newsom may be looking to portray a tougher, anti-drug image while still focusing on cities like San Francisco or Los Angeles.
Newsom’s ambitions as a presidential candidate or his desire to make it seem more soft on crime might get in the path of implementing a public health strategy to prevent drug overdoses.
Lawrence stated that the American drug war approach has been to restrict supply, but changing the demand is always a better option. That’s why so-called “harm reduction” policies such as safe injection sites are important.