Newsom rejects bill allowing opioid users to legally inject drugs under supervision

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has vetoed a bill allowing Los Angeles, Oakland and San Francisco to set up sites where opioid users could legally inject drugs under supervision.

“Deeply disappointing,” said State Senator Scott Wiener, who wrote Senate Bill 57.

Proponents of the bill wanted to give people who already would use drugs a place to inject them while trained staff stand by to help if they suffer accidental overdoses.

“The situation is really, really bad right now,” said Wiener. “People are using drugs, open air, on the sidewalks in front of people’s homes, businesses with people’s kids walking by. This is an opportunity to help get people inside in a supervised setting.”

Newsom’s veto Monday comes amid a spike in overdose deaths amid a national opioid crisis. But opponents say the bill in effect would have condoned the use of dangerous drugs.

Newsom said the bill could have brought “a world of unintended consequences” and lacked a strong operation plan, which would make the drug crisis even worse.

“I don’t know what he’s talking about and I don’t agree,” said Wiener. “These sites are a proven model around the world, over 30 years, in reducing overdose deaths, reducing HIV and hepatitis infections — and connecting people to treatment.”

The governor has denied rumors that he has aspirations to run for the presidency, but there is rampant speculation that he may ultimately seek higher office.

“This is the type of the bill where I would think normally, he would want to be out in front of it,” Loyola Law professor and political analyst Jessica Levinson. “And he would want to be first in the nation to say ‘We started this type of project and we actually saved lives.’ On the other hand, there is such a heavy political downside to a bill like this. There isn’t a big constituency that’s in support of this — or vehemently in support of this. And you can imagine how the opposition ads really write themselves. ”

Advocates said they are disappointed but are not giving up. They pointed to the situation in New York City where advocates were able to open two overdose supervision centers without state or federal authorization.

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