CA Gov. Finally Does Something Right, Vetos Supervised Drug Use
California Governor Gavin Newsom (D) surprised his supporters last week when he vetoed a proposal to allow supervised drug use in three of the state’s largest cities: San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Oakland
In all three cities, the widespread use of illicit drugs has significantly exacerbated homelessness and property crime. Statewide, more than 5,500 residents have died of opioid-related overdoses since 2020. The current rate of overdose death in San Francisco alone is roughly 2 residents per day.
“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,” warned Newsom. “These unintended consequences…cannot be taken lightly. Worsening drug consumption challenges in these areas is not a risk we can take.”
Senate Bill 57, approved by the California State Assembly, outlined a five-year pilot program in which the cities of San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Oakland could establish “supervised consumption sites” for addicts to use illicit drugs under medical supervision. Though the bill’s text called on city councils to hold meetings with the public and with law enforcement before establishing any programs, Newsom feared the consequences if such programs were operated without “strong, engaged local leadership and well-documented, vetted, and thoughtful operational and sustainability plans.”
The proposal was authored by California State Senator (D-San Francisco) Scott Wiener, who described Newsom’s veto as “tragic” and claimed the bill was based on a “proven and extensively studied strategy to save lives and get people into treatment.”
Though designed to prevent overdose among current users, history shows us that supervised consumption sites exacerbate drug use and encourage more people to try illegal drugs. If passed, the bill would have been America’s largest experiment with legal injection sites as well as a major embarrassment for the nation.
Unfortunately, it looks like San Francisco is moving forward with plans to open supervised consumption sites despite the veto through nonprofit organizations, as has been done in New York. And Governor Newsom, who has expressed support for safe injection sites in the past, says he remains open to the idea of a “truly limited pilot program.” He awaits a secondary proposal from lawmakers.
Author’s Note: As my colleague Joe Gilbertson likes to say, “Whatever you subsidize, you get more of.” In this case we’re talking about illicit drug use, addiction, and possible death. If San Francisco moves forwards with plans to open supervised consumption sites, we can expect to see massive increases in crime and drug use.