By Nuala Sawyer

A massive statewide assembly bill passed the California Senate today, offering major legal support to San Francisco’s pending safe consumption sites. Assembly Bill 186, authored by Assemblymember Susan Talamantes Eggman (D- Stockton) and Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), specifically permits San Francisco to open facilities for people to use controlled substances in a safe setting, surrounded by medical professionals and harm reduction workers.

The city approved plans safe consumption sites in February after a task force overwhelmingly proved the effectiveness of the model, which has been employed in other countries for decades. 

“I am committed to opening one of these sites here in San Francisco, no matter what it takes, because the status quo is not acceptable,” Mayor London Breed Tuesday, in the wake of the news. 

Locally, safe consumption sites have the potential to reach a population often cut out of traditional medical environments. Pierre-Cedric Crouch, director of nursing at the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, says he learned early on about the challenges that unhoused people on city streets face in seeing a doctor.

In addition to connecting people who use drugs to services, safe consumption sites also provide people with monitored care that is key to preventing overdoses. With fentanyl being slipped into an increasing range of street drugs, the possibility of overdose has risen enormously. Having staff on hand trained in administering Narcan, an opioid overdose reversal drug, could cut down on the 100 or so people who die from drug-related overdoses in the city each year.