California Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed legislation that would have allowed people in three of California’s largest cities on a trial basis to use illegal drugs under medical supervision, a politically risky strategy to address addiction and overdoses. Concerned about the “unintended consequences” Newsom rejected the measure that would have allowed an unlimited number of supervised consumption sites without additional safeguards, reports Politico. Opponents and members of his own Democratic party viewed the bill as enabling drug use, which conflicted with his progressive ideals. Newsom believes the sites would improve the safety and health, but if operated inadequately, they could make the situation worse, increasing drug consumption in cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Oakland. Since 2016 there has been debate between between progressive lawmakers who say it will save lives and moderate Democrats and Republicans who warn it would normalize hard drug use.
Supporters of Newsom hoped that the latest proposal would support legislation to approve five-year pilot programs in San Francisco, Oakland and Los Angeles, cities where drug use has contributed to an increase in property crime and homelessness that have tested the tolerance of liberal Californians. He had until Monday to decide on the bill sponsored by state Sen. Scott Wiener. It would have been the nation’s largest experiment with the supervised injection model, where users can get access to clean needles, testing and treatment services. Law enforcement groups have been lobbying against the bill, arguing that it would fuel the opioid epidemic by sanctioning “drug dens” that exacerbate the illegal activity and crime near the sites. Supporters said the sites would help fight opioid-related overdose deaths in California and elsewhere.