Short Take: Facilitating Drug Addiction

From Seattle to San Francisco and elsewhere, progressive policies on the homeless and addiction are making cesspits of once beautiful cities.  I reported before on this hour-long documentary by KOMO in Seattle.  Now Michael Shellenberger brings the news from the city by the bay.  Essentially, San Francisco is enthusiastically encouraging drug usage by drug addicts and at enormous cost to taxpayers.

The city is running a supervised drug consumption site in United Nations Plaza—just blocks away from city hall and the opera house—in flagrant violation of state and federal law… There, city-funded service providers supervise people smoking fentanyl and meth they buy from drug dealers across the street. 

Since the city no longer prosecutes either drug usage or dealing below certain amounts, the place is an open-air market, shooting gallery and tent city all rolled into one.  Plus, since it no longer prosecutes theft of goods under the value of $900, the city has become a one-stop-shopping mecca for addicts.

The city is carrying out a bizarre medical experiment whereby addicts are given everything they need to maintain their addiction—cash, hot meals, shelter—in exchange for . . . almost nothing. Voters have found themselves in the strange position of paying for fentanyl, meth and crack use on public property…

You will see that the city is permitting people to openly use and even deal drugs in a cordoned-off area of the public square.  

That public property of course is in the heart of downtown San Francisco where all but the courageous now fear to tread.  And the city doesn’t stop at facilitating drug acquisition and use, it provides space for tents as well.  The cost for the whole thing?

The Safe Sleeping Site, which was created in 2020, is one of six similar sites throughout the city with about 250 tents between them. The city’s taxpayers spend about $57,000 per tent per year—or twice the median cost of a one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco.

As in Seattle, what’s called a problem of “homelessness” is really almost entirely a problem of drug addiction.

On Saturday, I talked to a 37-year-old heroin addict originally from Alabama who has been living on San Francisco’s streets for seven years. He told me that for the majority of homeless people “addiction is the main driving force.”

It makes good sense. Homeless shelters have rules, like no drug use. The streets do not.

The KOMO documentary makes perhaps the most trenchant point: helping drug addicts acquire and use the drugs that are debilitating and killing them is not a compassionate act.  Neither is facilitating life in tents in the rain and cold without sanitary facilities, the ability to cook a meal, etc.

There’s actually a sensible way to deal with this problem – require addicts to get help and make that help available to them.  That of course means enforcing the law which cities like Seattle and San Francisco openly refuse to do.  And it would mean treating addicts with programs that have proven to be pretty successful at doing so.

Meanwhile, the Biden Administration seems to be taking its cue from San Francisco.  It just announced it’ll spend $30 million of taxpayer dollars to facilitate the use of hard drugs like crack cocaine and methamphetamine. 

In the end, the titles of the KOMO and Shellenberger pieces – “Seattle is Dying” and “Slow-Motion Suicide in San Francisco” – say it all.

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