Supervisor Jim Desmond
In 2021, the Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 to create a “Harm Reduction Program.” Part of that proposal included a Syringe Services Program, which essentially gives free drug paraphernalia to San Diegans. I was one of the dissenting votes, primarily because I don't believe enabling drug use will get people the help they need. The majority of people living on our streets are addicted to drugs and alcohol, and promoting drug use will only perpetuate the problem.
The County of San Diego is pursuing a harm reduction program, including syringe services and safer smoking supplies, through the California Department of Public Health. The good news is you can give your input on this ridiculous plan!
This potential program involves, in part, the distribution of free needles and various other drug paraphernalia, and includes:
• Sterile syringes
• Personal sharps disposal containers
• Safer injection and wound care supplies
• Fentanyl test strips
• Condoms and lube packets with instructions
• Educational information on HIV, STDs and viral hepatitis transmission prevention
• Safer smoking supplies (including pipe covers, mouthpieces, foil sheets, clean glass stems and bubblers)
While the intention behind this approach may seem well-meaning, I firmly believe that it will ultimately do more harm than good to neighborhoods and communities. By providing drug paraphernalia, in large part to homeless individuals, we are essentially enabling and normalizing dangerous drug use, exacerbating addiction issues and potentially putting our community at an increased risk.
We've heard concerns about this plan from many North County residents and elected officials. I have asked county staff to work with the cities and find solutions and programs that work for each community. And, importantly, identifying those programs and services that don’t work for communities.