It’s unusual when sanity prevails in La-La-Land. But the prospect of giving drug addicts a place to shoot up proved to be too much for California Gov. Gavin Newsom, who vetoed a bill that would have set up legal, supervised drug injection facilities in Los Angeles and San Francisco.
The goal is to reduce overdoses. That’s a good thing. But at the same time, legalizing the injection of dangerous, illegal drugs — even under supervision — sends exactly the wrong kind of message to communities who are suffering the debilitating effects of drug addiction.
That was just part of Newsom’s thinking on the subject.
Newsom conceded such facilities would be helpful but worried that “if done without a strong plan, they could work against this purpose. … Worsening drug consumption challenges in these areas is not a risk we can take.”
Proponents wanted to give people who already use drugs a place to inject them while trained staff stand by to help if they suffer accidental overdoses. But opponents argued that the move would in effect have condoned the use of dangerous drugs.
Indeed, this is a plan that would be akin to walking through a minefield blindfolded. There’s no allowance for the quality of the drug being injected. They’re not going to test each and every needle to make sure the dosage won’t kill the user. Nor do they have any idea what’s in the shot. What was it cut with?
The program may save some lives. But what message does it send to the community at large?
“We need to stop enabling criminal acts,” added Assembly Republican Leader James Gallagher, who had sent his own letter. “Instead, we should promote policies that will empower people to safely get off the streets and reintegrate into our communities.”
Tracy McCray, president of the San Francisco Police Officers Association, also praised Newsom for blocking what she said would have been “sanctioned drug dens … creating misery and chaos for the residents and businesses forced to be next to these sites.”
Experts in addiction know that drug addicts will only stop when they’ve hit rock bottom in their lives. Only when addicts are at their most helpless and desperate are they motivated to even begin treatment. Court-ordered treatment is a joke. The thinking behind mandatory treatment sentences from judges is that by simply presenting the option to get clean, addicts will take it and be grateful.
Nothing could be further from the truth. It’s what makes drug addiction such a horrible and painful crisis for friends, families, and loved ones to deal with.
Facilitating drug use without consequences only prolongs the agony for the user and their families. Every addict hits rock bottom eventually, and having programs and facilities available when that happens is a far better expenditure of money than building shelters for illegal drug use.