San Francisco’s Problematic “Safe Injection Centers”

Hongli Xu
By Hongli Xu
October 24, 2018Zooming Inshare

Part 3: Step After Legalizing Recreational Marijuana

Narration: Dr. Brown’s son eventually moved on to more serious drugs when he was a freshman in college. His family tried their best to help him control the addiction. He could control it for a while, but he always relapsed. At the end of each cycle he would be in an even worse situation.

Christy Brown: So when he had to withdraw from school, that was a big shock for him, because that was his status in life and he was going to college and all his other friends are still in college. And he just kind of went crazy. We found out he was also using opioid pills. And then we found out he was starting to use heroin, and he was starting to inject heroin. So it was very, very quick from going to college, going into these other drugs, and then becoming a full-blown heroin addict.

Narration: He ended up also developing drug-induced psychosis and was sent to mental health institutions for a while. After being arrested for driving under the influence, his mother discovered a surprising fact about him.

Christy Brown: I was really worried, I hired a lawyer to find out what was gonna go on. The lawyer went to see him and I told him: He’s mentally ill and he’s psychotic. And the lawyer went and he said to me, there’s nothing wrong with your son, he’s okay. And I said, really? We went to see him and he actually had been taking this medical marijuana for 4 months and exhibiting these signs of psychosis. We went to the jail and he was fine after 24 hours of not using marijuana. He was himself, basically.

Christy Brown: So when they tell you that this is a disease, and it should not be law enforcement that deal with people, and it should just be the health providers that deal with addicted people, it’s really not going to work because the psychiatrist couldn’t deal with him. He was too out of control. There are some cases where the only people that are gonna be able to deal with a person who is in an out of control, addicted situation is law enforcement, unfortunately.

Narration: Between law enforcement and the persistent efforts of his family, Dr. Brown’s son was able to finally stop using drugs and graduate from college. Dr. Brown, however, is aware that the battle is not over. Anytime he’s exposed to a drug accessible environment, he’s in danger of relapsing.

Narration: On Aug.21, 2018, the California State Senate passed a measure that would authorize San Francisco to open a facility for injecting illegal drugs—the first of its kind in the nation. Eight days later, a mock injection center was open. One of the critiques of the injection center was that law enforcement would potentially no longer be able to arrest people who possess drugs because they could simply say they are on their way to the “safe injection center.” For the Brown family, it means they will have one more thing to watch out for.

Simone Gao: Dr. Brown is a lifelong Democrat, and she still is. She voted for legalizing medical marijuana, believing the herb is a necessary treatment for a small group of terminal disease patients. When her students told her high schoolers was selling marijuana to younger kids, she didn’t believe it until her own son became a victim. To her, drug policy is not a partisan issue, but a common-sense issue. She told me, if she knew all the facts that were hidden about marijuana, she would never have voted for legalizing medical marijuana. Now, California is likely to see a boom of injection centers in the near future. Will the debate over it be about two contrasting government philosophies, or does it really come down to basic common sense? Let’s find out in part two of this series: Is California Pioneering Legalizing of All Drugs? Thanks for watching Zooming In. I’m Simone Gao. See you next week.

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