Supervised Injection Facility Proposed By California Lawmaker

By Victoria Kim 04/07/16

The proposal was met with strong opposition from local law enforcement who believe it sends the wrong message about drug use.

Supervised Injection Facility Proposed By California Lawmaker
Assemblywoman Susan Talamantes Eggman introduced the SIF proposal. Photo via California State Assembly

California has joined the growing number of cities and states across the U.S. that are considering the benefits of opening a safe injection facility (SIF).

On Tuesday, Democratic Assemblywoman Susan Talamantes Eggman introduced a proposal that would make it legal for local and state health departments to allow the use of controlled substances in clinics, AP reports. “Addiction is a health care issue, and I think it’s high time we started treating it as a public health issue, versus a criminal issue,” said Eggman at a press conference Tuesday. “This bill is one step to be able to address the heroin addiction and epidemic of overdoses that we’re having in our country.”

There are around 100 SIFs operating around the world in places like Canada, Spain and Norway, but none currently exist in the U.S. The idea behind SIFs is to provide a safe environment for injection drug users, getting them off the streets and promoting safe injection practices. The assemblywoman is channeling the success of North America’s only supervised injection facility, Insite, which opened in Vancouver, British Columbia in 2003. Canadian Sen. Larry Campbell was the mayor of Vancouver at the time. Campbell, a supporter of SIFs, joined Eggman at the Tuesday press conference in Sacramento to support her proposal.

“The drug is illegal, but the person who’s using the drug is suffering from a recognized medical disease,” he said. “What this does is simply treat the addiction, keep somebody alive and keep them off the streets.” Last year, Campbell told The Fix that he “ran on the platform that I would open a supervised injection site in Vancouver.” As a former law enforcement officer, he said he was tired of watching the bodies pile up as overdose deaths in the city spiraled out of control.

Insite has seen not a single overdose fatality, and is estimated to have saved the state $1.5 million in health care costs in 2003 alone.

For now, Eggman’s proposal faces strong opposition from local law enforcement, which says the bill “sends entirely the wrong message regarding drug use” according to a spokesperson for the California State Sheriff’s Association. A committee vote has been postponed, indicating that lawmakers are reluctant to support the bill, according to AP.

SIFs are being considered in New York, San Francisco and Seattle as well.

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr