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California bill would permit 'supervised injection centers'

When a person in Sacramento is addicted to drugs, such as heroin, they need help conquering their addiction rather than being charged with drug crimes. In fact, even if an addict is arrested on drug charges, he or she may continue to use drugs in the future. For this reason, some countries have provided citizens with "supervised injection centers." At these centers, which are sanctioned by the government, drug users are provided with a safe place to use drugs, where they can be assured that they will not be arrested for using drugs, and they can be provided with a measure of safety from an accidental overdose.

For example, our neighbor to the north, Vancouver, Canada, opened such a center in 2003. According to one source, after opening this center, the number of drug overdoses that have resulted in fatalities went down 35 percent. Moreover, keeping anti-overdose drugs in the hands of nurses at this center meant that over 1,700 overdoses were stopped in 2016. Having sterile needles also means that it is less likely drug users will contract diseases such as HIV. This center also refers users to drug detox facilities.

There is currently a bill in California that would permit the installation of supervised injection centers in certain parts of the state. This measure is in touch with the belief that those addicted to drugs aren't criminals; instead, they have a disease. A Senate committee will vote on the bill in July.

However, critics in the United States have claimed that the government should not permit the use of illegal drugs. This is so even though drug overdoses are now the primary cause of accidental fatalities in the United States of people age 50 and younger. As for the aforementioned bill, law enforcement groups are against it, claiming it would create "drug dens."

It remains to be seen whether this bill will become law, but what is important to remember is that as the law currently stands, the use of heroin and other controlled substances is illegal. Those caught in possession of illegal drugs may be charged with drug crimes. When this happens, these individuals may want to make sure they take every step possible to defend themselves. With the right legal help, it may be possible for those facing drug charges to have the charges against them reduced or perhaps dropped altogether.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "Safe injections centers are not opium dens," June 24, 2017

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