Governor Brown Vetoes Drug Injection Sites in California

October 5, 2018 Updated: October 5, 2018

SACRAMENTO, Calif.—On Sun. Sep. 30, Governor Jerry Brown vetoed AB 186, the controversial bill to give San Francisco City legal status to operate drug injection sites (SIS) for illegal drugs.

Brown in his letter to the Legislature, while addressing the voices from both supporting and opposition sides, clearly stated his reasons for vetoing the bill: “I conclude that the disadvantages of this bill far outweigh the possible benefits.”

“Fundamentally, I do not believe that enabling illegal drug use in government sponsored injection centers- with no corresponding requirement that the user undergo treatment-will reduce drug addiction,” Brown said.

Brown also said, “It would be irresponsible to expose local officials and health care professionals to potential federal criminal charges.”

Brown’s statement clearly responded to U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein’s opinion article on New York Times. In his article Rosenstein said that SIS operations are illegal, and violations will be punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed’s office, after learning AB 186 was vetoed, immediately issued a statement expressing Breed’s disappointment. “If we are going to prevent overdoses and connect people to services and treatment that they badly need to stop using drugs in the first place, we need safe injection sites,” the statement said.

However, those opposing AB 186 publicly expressed feelings of welcome and relief at Brown’s veto.

The California Coalition Against Drugs (CCAD), the organization which took the leading role in opposition to opening an SIS in the city, released a letter to the public on Oct. 1, stating: “Our coalition applauds the decision of California Governor Brown to veto AB 186.”

The letter from CCAD also urged San Francisco Mayor London Breed “to be responsible to both City employees and voters—to terminate any effort along this line now.”

Assembly member Susan Eggman, the legislator who originally initiated AB 186 back in January 2017, had issued a press release on Sep. 15, stating that she would not bring this bill for another vote prior to the end of the legislative session.

However, Eggman also stated that she was “committed to finding a way forward next year.”

GLIDE Foundation, the organization that provided the mockup SIS site in the Glide Memorial Church in San Francisco last month, also released a statement expressing its disappointment.

In its statement, the GLIDE Foundation said, “We were proud to host the ‘Safer Inside’ demonstration of a safe injection site last month,” and stated the foundation would “continue to work with Mayor Breed.”