The authors of a bill that would allow San Francisco drug users to inject themselves at supervised facilities without legal consequences announced last month that the bill won’t move forward this year. Assembly Bill 362 (AB 362) would have created a safe injection site pilot program in San Francisco that, if passed, would last for six years. The proposed bill passed the state Assembly, but was not progressing fast enough in the Senate so the bill’s authors, Assemblywoman Susan Eggman and Senator Scott Wiener, decided to try to pass the bill next year. AB 362 was referred to three policy committees, which is an unusually high number, before the bill’s authors decided that it would be difficult this year for it to make it to the governor’s desk. The two authors stated the following in a joint statement regarding their decision,
Given the bill’s triple referral to three Senate policy committees and the ongoing discussions with cities that may want to be added to the pilot program, we believe it best to allow more time in the process so we can include communities that want to be included and so that we make this the strongest possible pilot.
The safe injection sites are meant to allow drug users to inject themselves under supervision while offering them treatment and connecting them with social services. Assemblywoman Eggman introduced a similar bill last year, Assembly Bill 186, which was vetoed by then Governor Jerry Brown due to concerns that local officials and healthcare professionals could face federal criminal charges by opening safe injection facilities. Governor Gavin Newsom had stated he was “open” to the idea of safe injection sites while he was campaigning for governor, but he hasn’t endorsed Assemblywoman Eggman and Senator Wiener’s proposal. We will have to wait and see if a similar bill is proposed next year.