Overdose prevention programs bill is back in Sacramento


On February 4, 2019, Assembly Member Susan Eggman, along with principal coauthor Senator Scott Wiener and co-author Friedman, introduced Assembly Bill 362 (AB 362) to the California State Legislature. If the bill is passed by the Legislature and signed by Governor Gavin Newsom, the City and County of San Francisco would be able to operate overdose prevention programs serving people who use illicit drugs.

Overdose prevention programs—also known as safe consumption spaces or safe injection sites—provide safe and hygienic spaces, supervised by health care professionals, where adults use pre-obtained drugs with sterile supplies, have access to overdose prevention support, receive health information, can receive referrals for substance use treatment, and can receive referrals to other health and social services such as HIV and hepatitis C testing and treatment. Effective in more than 65 cities around the world, overdose prevention programs improve the lives and health of people who use drugs, reduce public injecting, prevent disease transmission and infection and improve public safety.

“San Francisco AIDS Foundation is proud to be a co-sponsor of AB 362 and will be working diligently to ensure these centers become a reality for San Franciscans,” said Joe Hollendoner, CEO of San Francisco AIDS Foundation.

“I believe in the power of acceptance. I believe in the power of telling drug users that they matter—that their lives matter,” said Mike Discepola, director of behavioral health services and the Stonewall Project at San Francisco AIDS Foundation. “Evidence-based health care services save lives. We see that, we know that.”

“San Francisco has a long history of pushing the envelope on progressive public health solutions, including medical cannabis and needle exchange, before either was legal or broadly embraced. With AB 362 San Francisco, once again, can lead the way on progressive change for our community and for all of California,” said Senator Scott Wiener.

AB 362 revives the possibility of overdose prevention and safe consumption spaces coming to San Francisco after a different overdose prevention bill (AB 186) was vetoed by Governor Brown in 2018.

“We are hopeful that Governor Newsom will support AB 362,” said Courtney Mulhern-Pearson, senior director of policy and strategy at San Francisco AIDS Foundation. “At the time AB 186 was vetoed, Gavin Newsom said that he remains ‘very open’ to a pilot program for a safe consumption site and might consider one if he was elected governor. This legislation is important for San Francisco and will go a long way to protect the health of many people in our city.”     

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How to get involved

Advocate for policy change

San Francisco AIDS Foundation makes it easy to show your support for policy changes, such as AB 362, that would make it legal to operate overdose prevention programs in San Francisco. Join the HIV Advocacy Network to receive text and email alerts with easy ways to make your voice heard. Text SFAF to the number 52886.

 

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