San Francisco supervisor asks Gov. Gavin Newsom for help with drug overdoses, drug use

Gavin Newsom

FILE – In this July 23, 2019, file photo, Gov. Gavin Newsom talks to reporters at his Capitol office, in Sacramento, Calif. California could become the first state with its own prescription drug label. Newsom announced Thursday, Jan. 9, 2020, he wants California to contract with generic drug companies to make prescription medications on behalf of the state so it can sell them to the public. He said the goal is to lower prices by increasing competition in the generic market. State lawmakers must approve the plan before it can take effect. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) — San Francisco Supervisor Matt Haney sent a letter to California Governor Gavin Newsom on Friday asking for help with drug use in the City.

Haney asked for state assistance and state resources to aid local efforts in addressing the public health and safety crisis on drug overdoses and drug use.

The letter emphasized the need for an executive order, similar to the Governor’s Executive Order on Homelessness, that would lay out a response to this public health emergency.

Haney’s request for help comes after the medical examiner’s office confirmed that overdose deaths caused by fentanyl and heroin in San Francisco doubled in 2019.

“We desperately need a comprehensive state response to assist our city as well as other cities around the state to this crisis,” Haney said in his letter to the governor. “It is clear that the crisis is impacting our entire state and is far beyond the capacity of a single city to address on its own without assistance from state, regional, and federal authorities.”

Haney says overdose prevention sites, aka safe injection sites, would reduce open air drug use and prevent drug overdose.

The supervisor is working with Mayor London Breed on opening up the first overdose prevention site in San Francisco, but says there are many state and federal legal and administrative questions.

“We’re hoping that Governor Newsom can take executive action immediately to allow an overdose prevention site to open in San Francisco. We can’t wait another year,” Haney said. “People are dying of drug use at rates we have never seen, and overdose prevention sites can save lives.”

Currently in San Francisco, drug overdoses account for 5-times as many deaths as either traffic deaths or homicides, according to Haney. In 2019, there were 290 deaths from fentanyl, heroin or a combination of the two, compared to 134 in 2018.

“Open drug use and overdose deaths in San Francisco are increasing at a terrifying rate, and each loss of life is unacceptable and devastating,” Haney said. “This drug crisis is impacting all of us in our downtown neighborhoods: families, small businesses, visitors, people experiencing homelessness, and all of our residents. As a community we need to act boldly and compassionately in dealing with substance use disorder and drug overdose.”

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