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Safe injection advocates urge approval of pilot

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Assemblywoman Susan Eggman, D-Stockton, speaks at a press conference urging Gov. Jerry Brown to sign AB 186 in San Francisco, Calif., on Tuesday, Sept 4, 2018.

While legislation allow to San Francisco to pilot a safe injection site sits on Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk, city and state lawmakers still came together to urge the governor to sign the legislation.

Assemblywoman Susan Eggman, D-Stockton, the main sponsor of Assembly Bill 187 that would allow The City to pilot and open a safe injection site, joined Mayor London Breed, state Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, Assemblyman David Chiu, D-San Francisco, Supervisor Rafael Mandelman and health advocates, in calling for the governor to sign the bill at a press conference on Tuesday at HealthRIGHT 360 center.

Eggman, who has advocated for safe injection sites, said:

“The most basic thing we can do is connect with somebody on a human level and treat them with dignity and respect and that is the whole idea behind safe injection sites.”

Eggman said she tried three years ago to introduce a bill to allow cities to open safe injection sites, but said she was unable to muster any votes in the first committee.

Last year, Eggman reintroduced the bill but for only nine counties, and then finally amending the proposed bill just to pilot a safe injection site in The City which finally passed the State Assembly and Senate.

Wiener, a co-author of AB 186, said The City has led with programs like needle exchanges during the height of the AIDS and HIV epidemic and allowing dispensaries to sell marijuana despite criticism and threats from the federal government from both sides of the political aisle.

He also referred to an editorial written by the U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in the New York Times who wrote that he will take criminal action if cities decide to open a safe injection site:

“We’re not scared to push the envelope on public health policy … even if the federal government threatens us with criminal prosecution such as that ignorant New York Times Op/Ed that Rod Rosenstein published filled with inaccuracies.”

Mayor London Breed said she too had reservations about safe injection sites until she and health officials visited a site in Vancouver.

She said she was impressed with facility which had zero overdoses and more than 3,500 people referred for help and did not come back:

“This is something I know will make a difference. What we’re doing right now isn’t working.”

Even if Brown were to sign the bill, Breed said that is unknown when a safe injection would open as The City tries to figure out how to deal with the federal government and to make sure employees are safe from any federal repercussions.

Last week, a prototype of s safe injection site was on display at Glide Memorial United Methodist Church to give the public an idea of what it would look like and how it would be operated by staff.

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