California lawmaker wants to create supervised heroin injection centers


SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A lawmaker wants to allow California addicts to use heroin, crack and other drugs at supervised facilities to cut down on overdoses, joining several U.S. cities considering establishing the nation’s first legal drug-injection sites.

The proposal introduced Tuesday comes as San Francisco, Seattle, New York City and Ithaca, New York, weigh ordinances to set up the facilities, citing the success of a site operating in Canada since 2003.

But law enforcement has opposed the move in California, saying it will worsen addiction. And lawmakers seemed reluctant to support it, postponing a committee vote.

Though federal authorities have taken a hands-off approach to states’ legalization of marijuana, it’s not clear how they would respond to facilities permitting users to shoot up hard drugs.

The bill from Democratic Assemblywoman Susan Talamantes Eggman would make it legal for local and state health departments to allow the use of controlled substances in clinics that would offer medical intervention.

Supporters say the facilities would reduce deaths and transmissions of HIV and hepatitis C.

“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,” Eggman said. “This bill is one step to be able to address the heroin addiction and epidemic of overdoses that we’re having in our country.”

Advocates of drug policy reform point to the success of North America’s only supervised injection facility, established 13 years ago in Vancouver, British Columbia.



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