Political Test for Gavin Newsom: Whether to Sign Injection-Site Bill

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Then, as some people approached, she offered, “Narcan?” She held out white boxes filled with the nasal spray that reverses opioid overdoses, while her colleague biked ahead, pausing to staple Narcan packages to trees.

Ms. Snakeoil, co-founder and executive director of the nonprofit Sidewalk Project, which helps people living on the streets, said Mr. Newsom had a unique opportunity to respond to drug overdoses by signing the bill on his desk.

“We’re really on the front lines here,” said Ms. Snakeoil, an activist, artist and sex worker.

“I’ve done many reversals,” she added, referring to reviving users from an overdose using Narcan or another method, “but I’ve also watched people die in the midst of a response to an overdose, because we got there too late.”

Republicans in the state legislature urged Mr. Newsom to veto the latest bill, saying it would effectively create government-sanctioned “drug dens” and could leave workers vulnerable to federal prosecution. Under the Trump administration, the United States Department of Justice sued a Philadelphia nonprofit over a plan to open a supervised injection site; Biden administration officials are now discussing a settlement of the suit.

Tom Wolf, co-founder of the California Peace Coalition, a nonpartisan group of people in recovery and family members of current or former drug users, said that California cities — and those across the nation — do not have robust systems that include the transitional housing and mandatory treatment that are needed to make supervised sites effective in the long term.

For a time several years ago, Mr. Wolf was severely addicted to opioids and lived on the street in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district. He said he had seen conditions deteriorate further since then, with drug deals taking place essentially in the open.

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