California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday vetoed legislation that aimed to minimize overdose deaths by creating safe drug injection sites in some cities, citing concern over “unintended consequences.”
Senate Bill 57 proposed a tri-city pilot program in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Oakland that would legalize drug use in specific supervised hygienic spaces where drug users could consume drugs using sterile supplies, according to the bill text.
While the bill called for local boards of supervisors and city councils to hold public meetings and consult with law enforcement before implementing a program, the governor expressed worry about “the operations of safe injection sites without strong, engaged local leadership and well-documented, vetted, and thoughtful operational and sustainability plans.”
“It is possible that these sites would help improve the safety and health of our urban areas, but if done without a strong plan, they could work against this purpose,” Newsom said in a veto letter. “These unintended consequences in cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Oakland cannot be taken lightly. Worsening drug consumption challenges in these areas is not a risk we can take.”
Newsom said he remains open to the idea on a more limited basis and comprehensive plans showing how the programs can run safely and effectively.
State Sen. Scott Wiener, the bill’s author, called the governor’s veto “tragic.”
“For eight years, a broad coalition has worked to pass this life-saving legislation,” Wiener, a Democrat, said in a statement. “Each year this legislation is delayed, more people die of drug overdoses — two per day in San Francisco alone. While this veto is a major setback for the effort to save lives and connect people to treatment, we must not — and will not — let it end this movement.”
California Assembly Republican Leader James Gallagher said in a statement on Monday that the legislation “should have never made it to the Governor’s desk in the first place.”
“I am very grateful to the Governor for being the sense of reason in this case,” Gallagher said. “We need to stop enabling criminal acts. Instead, we should promote policies that will empower people to safely get off the streets and reintegrate into our communities.”
CNN’s Shawna Mizelle contributed to this report.