“ Say yes to drug addiction, one drug den at a time ”

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“Saying yes to drug addiction, one drug den at a time” is a smart headline to a very serious problem. California Senate Republicans released a press release in the headline on Thursday about their concerns about Senate Bill 57 by Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco). “California is in the midst of an unprecedented overdose crisis that must be treated as a public health crisis,” Wiener said. Senate Bill 57 was passed by the Senate by a 21-11 vote, and is headed to the Assembly.

Republicans said, “Democratic Senate colleagues make it easier for addicts to use hard drugs without addressing the root causes of addiction or protecting neighbors living near proposed ‘drug dens’ locations.” Senate Bill 57 allows cities and counties in California to establish drug dens that are staffed and funded by taxpayers. “

SB 57, called the “Overdose Prevention Program,” written by Senator Wiener, would authorize the City and County of San Francisco, the County of Los Angeles, and the City of Oakland to approve entities to establish and implement programs. overdose prevention (OPP) until January 1, 2027. This bill obliges OPPs to provide specific services, including supervision by trained staff and referrals for treatment.

Senator Scott D. Wiener. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for the California Globe)

Republicans in the state Senate have said they are fighting the deadly fentanyl epidemic, while their fellow Senate Democrats appear to be normalizing drug addiction. “This bill lacks any strategy aimed at appropriately using alternatives to methadone, mandatory treatment protocols, on-site addiction counseling or even efforts to gradually wean an addict from the cycle of dependence”, indicates the analysis of the bill in opposition to SB 57.

“It’s like giving someone struggling with alcoholism a BevMo gift card. Democrats are the party of enablers right now – and at taxpayer expense, ”said Senate Republican Leader Scott Wilk (R-Santa Clarita). “Instead of vigorous efforts to help drug addicts kick the habit, Senate Democrats are throwing everyone under the bus in a ‘feel good’ push to hug the addict rather than helping them find housing. , heal and resume a productive life. There is no consideration for the neighborhoods in which these sites will operate, the victims of crimes resulting from drug addicts roaming the streets or the families of individuals with an addiction who pray for their loved one to be treated rather than to the death. drug.

It is evident that Senator Wiener is concerned about drug addiction as well as the dramatic increase in drug overdoses since 2019, attributable to the lockdown, but achieving a solution is where Wiener and others disagree.

Wiener said, “Amid the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States and California, the already alarming rate of drug overdoses is worsening. A recent study of emergency medical services data in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that overdose rates doubled in May 2020, compared to 2019. More than 40 states have documented increases in opioid overdoses since the beginning of the shelters in place. PPOs, also known as supervised consumption services, are a necessary intervention to prevent overdose deaths. About 165 PPOs exist in ten countries and have been rigorously researched and shown to reduce the health and safety issues associated with drug use, including public drug use, discarded syringes, HIV and hepatitis infections and overdose deaths. “

Republicans noted that in 2018 Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a very similar bill, Assembly Bill 186. In his veto message, Governor Brown noted that “allowing the use of illegal and destructive drugs will never work”.

Here is Brown’s veto message:

Former Governor Jerry Brown (Photo: ca.gov)

“I conclude that the disadvantages of this bill far outweigh the possible advantages.

Fundamentally, I don’t believe that allowing illicit drug use in government-sponsored injection sites – without a corresponding obligation for the user to undergo treatment – will reduce drug addiction.

Further, although this bill creates immunity under state law, it cannot create such immunity under federal law. In fact, the United States Attorney General has threatened prosecution in the past, and it would be irresponsible to expose local authorities and medical professionals to possible federal criminal charges.

Our overarching goal must be to reduce the use of illegal drugs and opioids that enslave human beings on a daily basis and wreak havoc in our communities. California never had enough drug treatment programs, and it doesn’t have enough now. Residential, outpatient and case management is necessary, voluntarily undertaken, or coercively imposed by our courts. Incentives and sanctions are needed. One without the other is futile.

There is no silver bullet, silver bullet, or piecemeal approach that will work. A global effort at national and local levels is needed. Fortunately, under the Affordable Care Act, California now has federal funds to support a much larger system of care for drug addicts. This is the way to go: involve many parts and many elements in a fully integrated business.

I repeat, allowing the use of illegal and destructive drugs will never work. The community must have the authority and the laws to demand compassionate but effective and compulsory treatment. AB 186 is fully carrot and not stick. “

According to the analysis of the bill, the co-sponsors of SB 57 are “largely health care providers and health and justice advocates:”

California Association of Alcohol and Drug Program Executives (co-source), California Society of Addiction Medicine (co-source), Drug Policy Alliance (co-source) HealthRIGHT 360 (co-source), San Francisco AIDS Foundation (co-source) and the Tarzana treatment centers (co-source).

Analysis of the bill indicates that there is no fiscal impact on SB 57, which is hard to believe. If the City and County of San Francisco, Los Angeles County, and the City of Oakland approve entities to establish and implement overdose prevention programs, who pays for it?

The California District Attorneys Association has stated that it believes the reasons given by Governor Brown in his veto message are also applicable to SB 57. “We echo in particular Governor Brown’s concern that ‘allow the use of illicit drugs in government-sponsored injection sites – without a corresponding requirement that the user undergo treatment – will reduce drug addiction. “

ACAD also noted, “The recent injection site survey conducted last year by the Canadian province of Alberta is instructive in evaluating this policy. According to the study, SB 57 injection sites have a magnet effect where addicts are drawn to areas around the sites with the mistaken belief that use of the controlled substances in question is now legal. Regular use of injection sites is very low, overdose deaths near injection sites are actually increasing, and the risks of COVID-19 are magnified. “

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