Wilk, Senate Republicans call for veto of ‘drug den’ bill

Politics and government

By Signal Staff 

Senate Republican Leader Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita, and all members of the Senate Republican Caucus are calling on Gov. Gavin Newsom to veto Senate Bill 57, which would authorize several California cities to operate drug dens.   

“Instead of focusing on a strategy to help people get their lives back, get off drugs and into treatment, California Democrats focus on giving people free needles and a safe place to shoot up,” Wilk said after the bill passed. “This is one of the most dangerous pieces of legislation that I’ve seen sent to the governor. Leaving people on the streets in squalor, rather than getting them help, shows zero compassion.” 

Wilk said there is a drug addiction crisis in California and it is irresponsible for legislative Democrats to advocate for drug dens, adding that these are the wrong priorities. Instead, he said, California must focus efforts on rehabilitation, counseling, and other alternatives, including treatment protocols. 

“The Legislature must work in tandem with law enforcement to get illicit drugs off our streets and hold drug dealers accountable for the lives they ruin,” Wilk said. “SB 57 doesn’t do that and could ultimately result in innocent people becoming victims to the crimes and hazards surrounding drug abuse.” 

The bill’s author, Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, characterizes the legislation as an overdose prevention program.  

“SB 57 legalizes overdose prevention programs, also known as safe consumption sites or safe injection sites, as pilot programs in San Francisco, Oakland, the city of Los Angeles, and Los Angeles County,” read a statement issued by Wiener’s office. “The city council or board of supervisors of each pilot jurisdiction has requested to be included in the legislation, and each will decide locally whether to participate and to what extent. SB 57 simply removes the state prohibition that currently makes such programs illegal.” 

SB 57 is a pilot program that would run for five years, through Jan. 1, 2028. 

“Every overdose death is preventable,” Wiener said in the statement. “We have the tools to end these deaths, get people healthy, and reduce harm for people who use drugs. Right now, we are letting people die on our streets for no reason other than an arbitrary legal prohibition that we need to remove. SB 57 is long overdue, and will make a huge impact for some of the most vulnerable people in our community.” 

Senate Democrats passed SB 57 on Monday with all Senate Republicans voting no. The bill is now headed to the governor either for his veto or signature to become law.  

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