California Governor Gavin Newsom, D, on Monday vetoed a bill to create a pilot program for safe drug use sites in major cities across the state — a decision seen as a setback for the harm-reduction movement that runs counter to the governor’s progressive record of drug policy reform.
he was there An open question about what Newsom will do With harm reduction legislation from Senator Scott Weiner (D), with recent reports suggesting he is undecided and fears signing it could be politically damaging as he contemplates a potential presidential run.
This is despite the fact that polls have found that a bipartisan majority of Americans support opening facilities where people can use currently illegal substances in a medically supervised environment to mitigate overdose deaths and provide people with treatment resources. This includes the multiplicity of support from the Republicans.
But on Monday, Newsom made his decision, refusing to offer an innovative approach to harm reduction in California, much to the chagrin of law advocates across the country who have been following the legislation closely.
“I have long supported the latest harm reduction strategies,” Newsom said in his veto. message. “However, I am deeply concerned about safe injection site operations without strong local leadership, participation, and well-documented, well-documented, and thoughtful operational and sustainability plans.”
He wrote: “The unlimited number of safe injection sites that will be authorized by this law – facilities that can exist in the latter part of this contract – could lead to a world of unintended consequences.” “These sites can help improve the safety and health of our urban areas, but if implemented without a strong plan, they can work against that purpose.”
Newsom said he will ask the Secretary of State for Health and Human Services to “invite city and county officials to discuss minimum standards and best practices for safe and sustainable overdose prevention programs” and that he remains “open to that discussion when these local officials return to the legislature with recommendations for a limited pilot program.” Really — with comprehensive plans for siting, operations, community partnerships, and financial sustainability that demonstrate how these programs can be managed safely and effectively.”
The bill would have allowed San Francisco, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County and Oakland to open overdose prevention sites under an initial pilot program, running through January 1, 2028.
As Lieutenant Governor in 2018, Newsom said he was “very, very open” to the “new strategy” — unlike his predecessor, Governor Jerry Brown (D), who vetoed a bill to allow the city to launch a pilot program for the site’s safe consumption.
But Newsom said Monday that “the potential unintended consequences in cities such as Los Angeles, San Francisco and Oakland cannot be taken lightly.”
“Exacerbating the challenges of drug consumption in these areas is not a risk we can take,” he wrote.
Weiner described the governor’s move as a “tragic” and “enormous missed opportunity.”
“These sites have been proven to save lives and connect people to treatment,” he said. “A sad day for CA’s fight against overdose deaths.”
The Newsom government vetoed our legislation to allow SF and Oakland & LA to implement safe consumption sites.
The veto is tragic and a huge missed opportunity. These sites are proven to save lives and connect people to treatment. Sad day for CA’s fight against overdose deaths.
My statement: pic.twitter.com/YYrnZTlEss
– Senator Scott Wiener (@Scott_Wiener) August 22 2022
“SB 57 is not a radical bill by any means. It simply gives permission to cities – each of which has asked for that permission – to pilot safe consumption sites to save lives and get people treated,” he said.
We do not need additional studies or working groups to determine if safe consumption sites are effective. We know from decades of experience and numerous peer-reviewed scientific studies that it works,” the senator said. “Safe Consumption sites have been operating around the world for nearly 30 years, with great success and no overdose deaths. These sites are a proven strategy for reducing overdose deaths, stress on emergency rooms, and general drug use, while expanding access to drug treatment. ”
under law Projectjurisdictions that chose to participate in the pilot also needed to select a single entity that would have funded it to conduct a peer-reviewed study of the effectiveness and societal implications of licensing statewide harm reduction centers.
California Republican lawmakers have made their opposition clear, urging voters to call the governor’s office and stand against the legislation.
🚨 Urgent call to action 🚨
GOVERNMENT OF NEWSOM OR VETO SB 57 TODAY MUST SIGN UP.
📞 Call: (916) 445-2841
Tell the government. To reject this dangerous law! pic.twitter.com/BxojiHOBHJ
California Senate Republican Caucus (SenateRepCaucus) August 22 2022
Assembly minority leader James Gallagher (right) sent Newsom a letter earlier this month, asking him to veto the bill. In a press release, he said he was “surprised” that he needed to make the point that “enabling the behavior of drug addicts is a bad thing.”
“Democrats have given up on governance, so they are actively promoting crime instead,” Gallagher said. He said. “When he was in office, former Governor Jerry Brown vetoed this terrible law and I urge Governor Newsom to do the same to protect all Californians.”
California Republicans (AsmRepublicans) August 22 2022
Wiener, the sponsor of the measure, also defended a bill to legalize possession of narcotic drugs in California, a law that acquitted the Senate and several Assembly committees. But he left it this month after a final commission destroyed key components, With only the study component left.
When it comes to safe consumption sites, Rhode Island Governor Dan Mackey (D) Signed a similar harm reduction bill last year. And the The first approved overdose prevention site in the United States It opened in New York City late last year, with local health officials Emphasizing that programs save lives.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams (D), a retired police officer known for his law and order ideology, suggested keeping sites open for 24 hours after seeing both the demand for services and the effectiveness of preventing overdose.
“This speaks volumes because he knows these sites have been very successful in New York City in the nearly one year since they were in effect,” Winner told Marijuana Moment in a recent interview. “Whatever the argument is, this is an idea a lot of different people can fall behind.”
A study published by the American Medical Association (AMA) last month found that these In fact, safe drug websites have lowered the risk of overdosedirected people away from using in public places and provided other auxiliary health services for people who are currently using illegal substances.
The research letter, published in the AMA’s Journal of the American Medical Association, looked at New York City data over a two-month period. It found that site-trained staff intervened in 125 cases to mitigate the risks of overdose, administering naloxone and oxygen and providing other services to prevent deaths.
While New York allows harm reduction centers to operate, federal law has been interpreted as prohibiting such facilities, and Ministry of Justice actively involved in litigation That started during the Trump administration due to an attempt by a Philadelphia-based nonprofit to open a safe consumption site.
However, the White House drug czar recently said that the Biden administration is Review of broader proposals to reduce the harms of drug policyincluding licensing supervised consumption sites — and went so far as to suggest possible decriminalization.
While the Biden administration is still investigating the clinical effectiveness of such facilities, Office of National Drug Policy (ONDCP) Director Rahul Gupta said a proposal to lift the current federal ban is on the table.
The Department of Justice said in February that it was actively working “Evaluation of supervised consumption sitesincluding discussions with state and local regulators about appropriate protective barriers for such sites, as part of a comprehensive approach to harm reduction and public safety.”
In October, the Supreme Court Reject a request to hear a case regarding the legality of establishing Safehouse facilities, but the case is still before a lower federal court. The prosecutors in Dar Al-Aman say that They had “productive” talks with the Ministry of Justice In recent months, that’s part of the reason they mutually agreed to extend the federal response deadline in the case several times.
National Institutes of Health (NIH) Place a pair of orders for apps (RFAs) in December for an effort that will provide funding for efforts to investigate how harm reduction and other policies can help address the drug crisis.
Gupta previously said it was critical to explore “any option” to reduce overdose deaths, and that It can include allowing safe consumption sites for illegal substances if the evidence supports their effectiveness.
US Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), Xavier Becerra, also indicated that the Biden administration would not act to prevent the creation of safe injection sites, stressing that “we are literally trying to give users a lifeline.”
But the department spokesperson Those notes later retracted, noting that “HHS has no position in supervised consumption sites” and that “the issue is a matter of ongoing litigation.” In any case, it will be up to the Department of Justice to decide whether to prosecute facility operators under the Controlled Substances Act.
When Besera served as California’s attorney general, he signed a warrant with his counterparts from other states when the Safehouse case was before a federal appeals court.
“The opioid epidemic has devastated communities across our nation. Safe injection sites aim to increase public health and safety by providing comprehensive services to victims of the opioid epidemic, while reducing the public nuisance of drug use in public spaces.” He said in time. “Safe injection sites like Safehouse are an innovative tool to combat the opioid epidemic and drug dependence while reducing overdose deaths and disease transmission. California has always been a leader, and we are committed to doing what it takes to keep our communities healthy and safe.”
Meanwhile, a New York House of Representatives committee introduced a bill in May to create a House Statewide Safe Consumption Site Programallowing regulators to license facilities where people can use currently illegal drugs in a medically supervised environment.
However, in a setback for advocates, the Vermont governor vetoed a bill in June that would have simply created a task force tasked with Develop a plan to open safe consumption sites.
Image courtesy of Journey Foreman.