Newsom Vetoes Safe Injection Site Law Meant to Slow CA OD Deaths

Newsom killed a bill to reduce state overdose deaths citing “unintended consequences” like finding areas to host stoned addicts
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Governor Gavin Newsom on Monday vetoed a bill which would have established “safe injection sites” in Los Angeles, Oakland and San Francisco through a pilot program aimed at slowing the surging number of fatal drug overdoses in those cities and throughout California.

Although the bill passed the state Senate earlier this month by a 21-11 vote, Newsom said on Monday that if the measure had become law, it could have ended in a “world of unintended consequences.”

Those consequences seem chiefly to do with the fact the proposed safe injection sites—envisioned as spaces where people would consume pre-obtained drugs with provided clean needles, and where trained professionals would be onsite with Narcan in case of overdose—require places in which to exist.

Every major city across the state of California is, however, extraordinarily people-adjacent.

“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,” Newsom wrote in his rejection letter to the Senate on Monday.

“It is possible that these sites would help improve the safety and health of our urban areas,” Newsom stated, “but if done without a strong plan, they could work against this purpose. 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.”

Although Newsom did famously say in 2018 that he was “very, very open” to the idea of such a pilot program—splitting with predecessor Jerry Brown, who vetoed a similar bill that same year—he now explains, “I have long supported the cutting edge of harm reduction strategies. However, I am acutely concerned about the operations of safe injection sites without strong, engaged local leadership and well-documented, vetted, and thoughtful operational and sustainability plans.”

Governor Newsom added, “We should strive to ensure our innovative efforts are well planned.”

No more unplanned innovations? It’s no wonder California wants to see this guy run for president.


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