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San Francisco Lawmakers May Skirt Ban on ‘Protected Injection Websites’

California Democrats are moving ahead with a plan to open so-called safe injection sites after Gov. Gavin Newsom (D.) vetoed a bill that would have legalized them.

Democratic regulators have proposed a plan to create “wellness centers” across the city that would offer a range of services, including drug use rooms, San Francisco-based KRON reported. These centers would be funded in part by taxpayers, although private non-profit organizations would fund and operate the “safe use areas” for drug users. Although they have yet to convince the Mayor of London Breed (D.) to join their initiative, Breed has suggested that non-profit organizations push ahead with plans for safe injection sites while the city debates the proposal’s legality.

Newsom in August vetoed a bill that would have legalized publicly funded injection sites in a number of California cities.

This is the latest attempt by the San Francisco legislature to tackle the city’s addiction problem. The city has more than 20 “harm reduction centers” where drug users can get clean crack pipes or needles for free. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors last month proposed a $5.5 million budget for citywide drug use centers that would also provide drug users with access to medical care.

Progressive lawmakers argue that these safe injection sites will curb overdose deaths. So far this has not been the case. The city in December shut down the controversial Tenderloin Linkage Center, a $22 million project designed to connect vulnerable drug users to public aid. Breed promised that the website, which opened in January 2022, would help reduce overdose deaths. The city had 625 overdose deaths in 2022, up 41 percent from before the pandemic.

The Linkage Center was purposely built in the Tenderloin, home to San Francisco’s largest “open-air drug market.” Small business owners in the Tenderloin are demanding tax refunds from the city to offset the loss of business they say was caused by the city’s inaction on drug use and crime.

Breed was due to meet with the coalition this week but postponed the meeting to February, the group said in an email to members on Tuesday.

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