By Abe Asher / The Independent

Progressive activists and elected officials criticised California Governor Gavin Newsom after his decision to veto legislation to create safe drug injection sites in three major cities — with some arguing that he had let his political ambitions take precedence over keeping his constituents safe.

“Today, California lost a huge opportunity to address one of our most deadly problems: The dramatic escalation of drug overdose deaths,” State Sen Scott Wiener of San Francisco, the bill’s author, wrote in a statement. “By rejecting a proven and extensively studied strategy to save lives and get people into treatment, this veto sends a powerful negative message that California is not committed to harm reduction.”

Mr Wiener, who serves as chair of the Senate’s Housing Committee, was not the only member of Mr Newsom’s party to express dismay with the governor’s decision.

The bill passed by the California legislature would have launched pilot programmes in San Francisco, Oakland, and Los Angeles in which drug use would be legalised in specific, hygenic areas in which people would have access to clean needles and supplies as well as medical care.

The aim of the proposal, which was endorsed by a broad coalition of healthcare professionals, academics, and local elected officials, was to cut down on drug overdose deaths in California as well as to alliviate pressure on the emergency healthcare infrastructure and reduce public drug consumption.