SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) — Safe drug injection sites are “crack houses with a different name, for different addictive drugs,” said Michele Hanisee, president of the Association of Deputy District Attorneys.
Leaders in criminal justice and policymaking spoke out strongly this week against making San Francisco the first city in the U.S. to establish safe injection sites.
Mayor London Breed introduced legislation last month to purchase a property in San Francisco to serve as a safe injection site. The city is proposing buying a 8,000-square-foot building on Geary Street and Hyde Street for $6.3 million.
The site would provide hygienic spaces where people can bring illegal drugs and use sterile supplies under the supervision of trained staff members equipped with Narcan.
Instead of using taxpayers’ dollars to support a drug user’s addiction, “a far better use of resources would be free, medically supervised detox and drug treatment programs,” Hanisee said.
“Addiction requires intervention, not accommodation,” Hanisee said.
Drug-related fatalities in San Francisco outpace COVID deaths in staggering numbers.
More than 600 people died from drug overdoses, compared to 173 from COVID, in 2020, according to data from the city medical examiner’s office.
In addition to Breed’s plan, State Sen. Scott Wiener is pushing for SB57, a state bill that would create safe injection sites in Oakland, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.
No one starts out wanting to be a drug addict, State Assemblyman Jim Cooper said.
“Day in and day out, people overdose and die. There are not enough treatment services. Being a drug addict is a horrible thing. They need help. And passing a bill like this does not help them whatsoever. If you have been in San Francisco lately, it’s just horrific. Enough is enough. We want to help these folks and get them off drugs,” Cooper said.
Cooper said he will vote “no” on SB57.
Fentanyl, which can be 100 times more potent than morphine, has flooded the street drug supply.
San Francisco Police Department officers seized more than 25.5 kilos of fentanyl in the Tenderloin in 2021, a nearly five-fold increase compared to last year, according to a report released by SFPD Thursday.
Supporters of safe drug injection sites say the primary goal is to decrease overdose deaths.
Ron Brooks, executive director of the National Narcotic Officers’ Associations Coalition, said words matter, and describing the injection sites as “safe” sends the wrong message.
“When we talk to people about ‘safe’ injection sites, there’s an indication that there is a safe way to (inject illegal drugs). We know that is simply not true,” Brooks said.
“We lost 100,000 Americans this year (to overdose deaths). Very few people are talking about this. Drug abuse may be the worst national security threat facing our country,” Brooks said.
Addiction is a never-ending cycle of psychological, spiritual, and physical pain, Rev. Wayne Lo said.
He added, “Addicts don’t need safe injection sites, they need safe treatment sites.”