San Francisco closer to opening ‘safe injection’ sites for drug addicts

Safe injection facilities would allow drug users to shoot up with clean equipment under supervised conditions.

SAN FRANCISCO: San Francisco is one step closer towards opening legal “safe injection” sites for drug addicts after a bill for that purpose cleared the California State Assembly, Xinhua news agency reported, citing local media.

The bill, if approved by the state Senate and California Governor Gavin Newsom, would allow San Francisco to open the country’s first state-sanctioned supervised injection sites for intravenous drug users, although such facilities could remain illegal under federal law.

The federal law prohibits possessing illicit drugs and “maintaining or providing access” to any space where illegal drugs are used.

The bill was co-authored by California Assemblywoman Susan Eggman from Stockton city and Senator Scott Wiener from San Francisco. It has won support of San Francisco Mayor London Breed.

Breed has been the most vocal supporter of such facilities in the city, which she had argued would help prevent people from “shooting up in public” and get needles off the streets.

Other pro-site advocates also maintain that safe-injection facilities would allow drug users to shoot up with clean equipment under supervised conditions, with the help of guides to avoid overdosing and curb the spread of infectious diseases.

Breed’s idea of launching the pilot programme of opening safe injection sites in the city was vetoed by former California Governor Jerry Brown last year, but Brown’s successor Newsom is “very, very open” to the proposed legislation.

Media reports said San Francisco has more than 20,000 intravenous drug users and has reported about 200 overdose deaths annually, largely from opioids in recent years.