Fresno authorities and former addicts discuss proposed 'safe injection site' bill

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Supervised drug centers are what a proposed state bill would allow - giving people the opportunity to use illegal drugs in a safe space.

"I was a heroin addict," 34-year-old Ashley Morgan said.

Morgan says the corner of Shaw and Blackstone in northeast Fresno is the place where she almost lost her life.

"I overdosed," she said. "And it took them four times of shocking me and two Narcan doses to bring me back."

After that experience, Morgan says a friend opened up their home - creating a safe space for her to get high with the hopes of helping her recover.

"I had clean syringes," she said. "And it gave me the chance to slow down. I started to think about what my interests were, what my goals were, instead of being preoccupied with how am I going to get and do my drug."

Morgan believes others could find the road to recovery with that same support proposed with bill AB186. If passed, Fresno County could allow facilities to give addicts the opportunity to use illegal drugs in a controlled environment.

The bill states clean needles would be handed out and a medical professional would be on site. Info on how to enter substance abuse programs would also be provided.

But Dr. Marc Lasher, who runs Fresno Needle Exchange, says while he supports the bill, he does not think Fresno is the place for this type of program.

"It could save lives, it's a good practice, it's just not feasible here," he said. "Maybe in San Franciso, maybe in Los Angeles where there's that high concentration that really needs help."

And Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims says not only does it violate the law, there are other issues as well.

"Of course we're urging people to stop using drugs, don't get started in the first place," she said. "I don't want anyone to say, 'If I do it safely, then it's okay.'"
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