Assemblymember Eggman and Senator Wiener join State and Local Leaders to Urge Governor Brown to Sign Bill to Allow Safe Injection Sites in San Francisco

September 4, 2018

San Francisco—Today supporters of Assembly Bill 186- to permit San Francisco to create a 3-year pilot program to implement supervised drug consumption sites, otherwise known as safe injection sites- gathered to call on Governor Brown to approve the bill.

At the press conference, author Assemblymember Susan Talamantes Eggman (D-Stockton) and co-author Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), were joined by San Francisco Mayor London Breed, Assemblymember David Chiu (D-San Francisco), CEO & President of HealthRIGHT 360, Vitka Eisen, Interim State Director of the California Drug Policy Alliance, Laura Thomas, and San Francisco Supervisor Rafael Mandelman.

AB 186 passed the State Legislature last week, and was sent to the Governor for his approval. The Governor has until September 30th to sign the bill.

“AB 186 is a bill that asks one specific policy question – should we keep trying what has failed for decades or give San Francisco the choice to try something that we know saves lives, reduces disease, and saves money?” said Assemblymember Eggman. “The opioid epidemic has ravaged communities up and down the state and all across the country. This bill provides a path for taking it on as the health crisis that it is.”

“We have a terrible problem of heroin and meth addiction, with far too much public drug injection in San Francisco and throughout our State,” said Senator Wiener. “This public health epidemic calls for forward-looking, progressive solutions. The status quo isn’t working. People are injecting drugs whether or not we intervene. They’re injecting on our sidewalks and parks, in transit stations and alleyways, and on people’s front steps. Safe injection sites provide people with an opportunity to inject in a clean, safe environment, with healthcare personnel available to prevent overdoses, and with an opportunity to offer people addiction, healthcare, housing, and other services. AB 186 presents San Francisco with the opportunity to show how forward looking solutions can keep people healthy, reduce overdoses, and make our communities safer.”

AB 186 permits San Francisco to establish facilities where individuals can use controlled substances under the supervision of staff that are trained to treat and prevent drug overdose and link people to drug treatment, housing, healthcare, and other services. Mayor London Breed, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, as well as a significant majority of the San Francisco electorate, support piloting safe injection sites in San Francisco.

Safe injection sites save lives by preventing overdoses and connecting people to life-saving services,” said Mayor Breed. “I am committed to opening one of these sites here in San Francisco, no matter what it takes, because the status quo is not acceptable. By doing so, we will help people who suffer from severe addiction get the help and services they need while reducing public drug use and discarded needles on our streets. I remain thankful to Senator Wiener and Assemblymember Eggman for their leadership and I am hopeful that Governor Brown will sign this important bill into law.”

“Thousands of San Franciscans are struggling with addiction, and we need to try something different to help them,” said Assemblymember Chiu. “Safe injection sites prevent overdoses while opening up access to critical treatment services.”

Last year AB 186 was passed by the Assembly, making it the first legislative body in the nation to pass such a bill, but was two votes shy in the Senate. This year the bill received enough votes to pass out of the Legislature, making California’s Legislature the first to pass such a bill.

The leading cause of accidental deaths in California and nationwide is from drug overdose.  Public drug injection is linked to higher rates of overdose, an increase in the spread of infectious diseases, including HIV and viral hepatitis, and other public health and safety risks. 

“I am so appreciative of Assemblymember Eggman and Senator Wiener’s leadership on this very important initiative,” said Vitka Eisen, President & CEO of HealthRIGHT 360. “Safe injection sites provide an opportunity to save lives in the event of overdose and offer a path to treatment. HealthRIGHT 360 provided primary care, mental health, and addiction treatment services to 27,000 people last year. However, we cannot serve a person who loses their life to overdose. I urge the Governor to sign AB 186 into law.”

“It’s time to do the right thing and let San Francisco open overdose prevention sites,” said Laura Thomas, Interim State Director for Drug Policy Alliance. “We have lost too many people to preventable overdoses. All of the evidence points towards the effectiveness of supervised consumption services. We know they work and it’s time to do what works.”

Supervised overdose prevention centers have been proven effective in locations where they are permitted. The sites help in reducing overdose deaths, preventing transmission of HIV and viral hepatitis, reducing drug use and syringes on streets, and also in linking individuals who use drugs to treatment and other services. Research shows that individuals who access these programs are more likely to enter into treatment and are more likely to stop using drugs.

AB 186 was sponsored by a broad coalition of public health and medical groups, substance use disorder treatment providers, and HIV and hepatitis prevention groups, including the Drug Policy Alliance, California Association of Alcohol and Drug Program Executives (CAADPE), California Society of Addiction Medicine (CSAM), DPA, Harm Reduction Coalition, Project Inform, and Tarzana Treatment Center. It is co-authored by Assemblymember Laura Friedman (D-Glendale) and Senator Ricardo Lara (D- Bell Gardens).