California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) has vetoed a bill that would have allowed for a safe injection site pilot program in the state, citing a lack of leadership in its implementation.
In a memo issued on Monday, Newsom wrote that he is concerned about Senate Bill 57 and the operations of the safe injection sites without engaged local leadership and a “well-documented, vetted, and thoughtful operational and sustainability plans.”
The proposed bill would have authorized the use of safe injection or consumption sites, where people can use illegal controlled substances at supervised facilities.
The state’s Senate passed the proposed bill in a 21-11 vote earlier this month.
“The unlimited number of safe injection sites that this bill would authorize — facilities which could exist well into the later part of this decade — could induce a world of unintended consequences. It is possible that these sites would help improve the safety and health of our urban areas, but if done without a strong plan, they could work against this purpose,” Newsom wrote in his memo, adding that open drug use in cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco and Oakland “cannot be taken lightly.”
“Worsening drug consumption challenges in these areas is not a risk we can take,” Newsom added.
Newsom also said that he’s instructing the state’s secretary of Health and Human Services to convene city and county officials to discuss the best practices for safe and sustainable overdose prevention programs.
“I remain open to this discussion when those local officials come back to the Legislature with recommendations for a truly limited pilot program — with comprehensive plans for siting, operations, community partnerships, and fiscal sustainability that demonstrate how these programs will be run safely and effectively,” Newsom said in his memo.
GOP state lawmakers applauded Newsom, who initially supported the proposed bill, for changing his mind and vetoing the legislation.
“Glad to see the governor veto this. People struggling with addiction need help, not a legal place to shoot up,” state Senator Scott Wilk (R) said in a statement. “I look forward to working with the governor to convince Democrats in the legislature that a compassionate approach to addiction is better done through medical and mental health treatments.”