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Calif. Encourages Illegal Drugs w/ Proposed Injection Sites

'There is a magnet effect so that people come into the area...'

(Tony Sifert, Headline USA) Democratic politicians in California are pushing for the creation of legal, state-administered drug abuse sites in the hope that the state can curb overdose deaths, according to an NBC report.

SB-57 would authorize San Francisco, LA County, Los Angeles and Oakland to create “entities to operate overdose prevention programs [by] providing a hygienic space supervised by trained staff where people who use drugs can consume preobtained drugs.”

Such facilities would provide sterile equipment for drug use, referrals for addiction treatment, and staff trained in the “administration of an opioid antagonist” in case of an overdose.

The bill passed out of the Committee on Public Safety on Thursday in a 5-2 party-line vote and will be considered by the full Assembly, NBC reported.

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California legislators were moved to act, in part, after the publication of a JAMA network study which showed both that the deaths of homeless people “increased markedly during the COVID-19 pandemic,” and that the increase was due to overdose deaths rather than to COVID.

Bill author, Democratic Sen. Scott Wiener, told NBC that SB-57 is intended to prevent overdose deaths.

“We know that we are experiencing a crisis of overdose deaths, and these are preventable,” Wiener said. “This is one way to help keep people safe and to actually help people get into treatment.”

Supporters said they were eager to “try something new” and made reference to the alleged success of “clean needle exchanges.”

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“Clean needle exchanges were once also controversial, before they became a largely accepted way of minimizing the spread of [various diseases],” Vitka Eisen, a former heroin user who heads sits on the boards of several Calif. health agencies. “In the face of a crisis, we must do things differently.”

Police officer organizations, however, objected because of the likelihood that the bill would encourage drug use.

“There is a magnet effect so that people come into the area,” one officer told NBC.

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