Source: Hot Air
California Gov. Gavin Newsom is saying no to his left flank, which is something that doesn’t happen every day in this one-party state. Today Newsom vetoed a bill which would have created an unlimited number of safe injection site pilot programs throughout the state.
Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed a bill that would have allowed pilot programs where people could use drugs under the supervision of trained staff in San Francisco, Oakland and Los Angeles, a blow to a long-fought battle to tackle the cities’ overdose crises.
In his veto letter, Newsom said he has “long supported the cutting edge of harm reduction strategies” but said the unlimited number of sites allowed by the bill “could induce a world of unintended consequences.” He did not go into detail about what those consequences could be.
“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’s letter read. “These unintended consequences 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.”
It’s probably safe to assume the “unintended consequences” Newsom is most concerned about about are the ones that could damage his run for president in a couple of years. Newsom has made it pretty clear that he’s trying to set himself up as the progressive opponent to Governors DeSantis and Abbott in Florida and Texas respectively. I find it hard to believe that sales pitch is working but he’s definitely interested in running. And while “safe injections sites” are an easy call in deep blue California, the idea would be a non-starter in many states. As the story points out, these sites are still illegal under federal law.
The most recent veto is a setback for many local officials and supporters who have pushed to open these sites for years to curb overdose deaths, but have dithered because federal law still prohibits them. If the governor had signed the bill into law, it would have permitted these cities to allow organizations to run the sites, but it didn’t mean that San Francisco would have immediately opened up one.
Honestly, I’m not sure that San Francisco would open one of these sites right now even if the bill had been signed. The city recalled woke members of the school board and the most progressive DA in the country. Mayor London Breed and replacement DA Brooke Jenkins have vowed to put an end to open air drug markets including a “linkage center” which had become an open air drug market and injection site for hundreds of people. So now is probably not the moment to push for safe injections sites in San Francisco.
That doesn’t mean that other cities wouldn’t have tried it. The budgets spent on things like homeless services in these cities is tremendous. All of that spending creates and army of activists whose job it is to lobby for more services.
Laura Guzman, a senior director at the National Harm Reduction Coalition, said advocates would be “enraged” if the bill was vetoed. She saw a veto as a “policy failure” to save lives, especially of people of color: In San Francisco, a disproportionate number of Black people died of overdoses from the opioid fentanyl in 2020.
New York City opened “overdose prevention centers” last year under outgoing Mayor de Blasio. Earlier this month, current Mayor Adams added machines to these OPC sites which check the contents of drugs brought to the site by addicts.
Trained technicians will use a Bruker Alpha FTIR (Fourier Transform Infrared) spectrometer machine to identify the presence and approximate amounts of a wide range of substances, including fentanyl, in drug samples brought in by program participants. All people who use this DOHMH drug-checking initiative will receive tailored harm reduction counseling, including access to naloxone and overdose prevention education.
In case you were wondering, this machine looks like a Keurig for heroin addicts. I don’t know what these cost but it’s enough that you have to request a quote to buy one.
Here’s a news report which emphasizes that this is about Newsom’s future political prospects.