The United States is currently in the midst of a major heroin epidemic. The rate of heroin-related overdose deaths have almost quadrupled between 2002 and 2013, and in the year 2013 alone, 8,200 Americans lost their lives to heroin. Many are butting heads on what the best solution would be to solve the growing heroin problem and California Assemblywoman, Susan Talamantes Eggman, has contributed another controversial idea to the pot.
Eggman has introduced a bill that would allow addicts to use heroin and opioid, among other drugs, under supervision in a legal injection and drug use facility.
“Addiction is a health care issue, and I think it’s high time we started treating it as a public health issue, versus a criminal issue,” Eggman said. “This bill is one step to be able to address the heroin addiction and epidemic of overdoses that we’re having in our country.”
She also brought attention to the fact that Canada has had success with a similar safe injection program in Vancouver, BC. Advocates of the supervised injection site located on the downtown Eastside of Vancouver have stated that they have seen a decrease in crime, drug use on the streets, unsafe and exposed needles in the street, and most notably, a decrease in overdoses.
The bill would make it legal for local and state health departments to not only allow legal use of drugs like heroin but the clinics could also offer medical intervention.
Canadian Sen. Larry Campbell, who helped establish the only legal injection facility in North America in 2003, joined Eggman in Sacramento to support the proposal.
The bill has been faced with opposition from law enforcement.
“This sends the entirely wrong message regarding drug use and likely creates civil liability issues for participating governments and officials,” said Asha Harris, the spokeswoman for the California State Sheriff’s Association.
In addition, lawmakers have been hesitant to support this bill and have postponed a committee vote.