SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — San Francisco Board of Supervisors President London Breed Tuesday called for the creation of a task force to explore the possibility of creating safe injection sites for drug users.
Breed said the task force, made up of community leaders and public health and addiction experts, would provide a report to the Board of Supervisors and Mayor Ed Lee on the issue.
Safe injection sites, which allow users to inject drugs in a medically supervised setting, are intended to help prevent overdose deaths, reduce the spread of disease, keep needles off the streets and provide users with access to drug treatment options and other social services.
While injecting sites are already in operation in other countries including Canada, opposition in the United States has been stiff.
When Supervisor David Campos proposed last year to open a safe injection site in a homeless shelter for addicts, Mayor Ed Lee flatly rejected the idea.
However, Seattle announced plans in January to become the first city in the nation to open a safe injection site.
San Francisco has an estimated 22,000 intravenous drug users, according to the Department of Public Health.
The city has had some success in reducing the transmission of hepatitis C and HIV through the use of needle exchange programs, which allow users to obtain clean needles, but Breed today noted that needles still litter areas near City Hall and downtown.
“I don’t know if safe injection services are the answer. To be honest, I have serious reservations about them,” Breed said. “But this issue is too acute—the harm too great—for us to rule out any possible solution without at least studying it first.”
Breed has asked the City Attorney to draft legislation that would create the task force, and expects to introduce it in March.