Skid Row’s shadows are home to a shopfront that looks like it is open for business, but in fact, this is where addicts go to get their clean needles and detox medications.
But it’s not a safe injection site; California doesn’t have any of those yet.
San Francisco Democratic Senator Scott Wiener is determined to change that.
“Right now, people are using drugs on our streets, shooting up in plain sight, in front of our kids, in our parks and near our businesses,”Wiener.
His bill was passed by the California Legislature to legalize drug injection sites. If Gov. If Gov. Gavin Newsom signs it L.A. could be one of the three California cities that open the supervised site.
“The goal here is to get them to go inside, into a safe, healthy clean setting,”Wiener stated.
These facilities will be staffed by clinicians who are trained to administer life-saving overdose drugs. Similar clinics exist in Rhode Island and New York City. Critics, however, say it’s the wrong approach to curb illegal drug use.
“Addicts are not good at delayed gratification. If I’ve got my needle, if I’m got my drugs, I’m going to shoot up wherever I am,” said John Lovell, a legislative advocate for the California Narcotics Officers’ Association.
Police warn that these areas are frequently flooded with illegal drugs.
“One of the first things that happens is drug traffickers come into the area because that’s where the customers are drawn,”Lovell stated.
The law would allow for a 5-year pilot program in three California city: L.A. Oakland, San Francisco and San Francisco.
Approval would need to be given by the L.A. County Board of Supervisors as well as the City Council.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recorded more than 10,000 California drug overdose deaths in 2021 — an increase of 29% from the year before.
Sen. Wiener claims that the state’s current actions are not working, and safe injection sites could save lives.
“People are still using drugs, people are still getting addicted, people are still dying,”Wiener stated. “The war on drugs has been an abysmal failure and a massive waste of taxpayer dollars.”
The bill will now head to the governor’s desk by the end of the week and he will have 12 days to act on it.
Newsom has not stated whether he intends to sign the legislation. However, he has supported similar bills in the past.