SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) — Witnessing addicts openly shooting drugs or stepping over dirty needles is an everyday experience in some parts of San Francisco.
“This is not just about the conditions that we are tired of seeing out on our streets, this is about saving people’s lives,” San Francisco Mayor London Breed said.
Breed and Supervisor Matt Haney held a news conference at Glide Church, in the same space that back in 2018 they erected mock safe injection site, to announce how next week they will introduce legislation at the board of supervisors.
It will establish a process for non-profits to apply for permits from the Department of Public Health to open safe consumption sites.
“An overdose prevention site will save approximately $3.5 million in healthcare costs,” Haney said. “This is the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do, it’s the compassionate, effective thing to do and it could not be more urgent as we face this most deadly epidemic.”
There were 330 fatal overdoses last year largely driven by fentanyl, and more expected this year.
Breed, who lost her sister to a drug overdose, said the idea is to have staff on hand to both medically supervise the addicts and encourage them to get clean.
“Just imagine them walking through this door and getting a space where they’re doing it inside where it’s contained, where they are around people who are basically treating them with respect and making it clear to them that as soon as they are ready we are there to help them,” Breed said.
One drug user who didn’t want his face to appear on camera said he thinks its a good idea.
Another man who says he stopped using drugs after overdosing on fentenyl thinks making using drugs safer is a bad idea.
“There would be no reason to quit drugs because you’re making it safer,” he said. “If San Francisco wants to do that and the rest of the country, what you’re doing now is creating zombies on the street.”
A Philadelphia non profit is poised to open a safe injection site next week after a judge ruled they would not be violating the federal controlled substances act.
San Francisco addicts will have longer to wait. The mayor says they can’t move forward until a bill authorizing the change is passed in the state legislature.
AB362 is expected to be taken up sometime this year.
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