Safe injection sites remain hot debate in San Francisco

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- There are more volleys from both sides in the debate over safe injection centers for homeless drug addicts in San Francisco.

If you haven't seen Doris Rolandelli in San Francisco's Tenderloin, they you have probably seen someone like her. She has wandered the streets here for 20 years.

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She's pregnant with twins, who admits to a witches brew of addictions beyond her control. "I suffer a lot for choices but things happen in between and it is quite hard."

She may find help if Glide Memorial Church opens a safe injection center. It would be the first in the nation -- a place where addicts could inject safely, with supervision and support from a staff that might help break their habits.

Some 100 countries operate such centers. In San Francisco, not everyone wants them.

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On Friday, a coalition of opponents met with reporters and launched a full-scale assault.

"Our job is not to exacerbate them from addiction but our job is to deliver them from this madness," said Ron Allen, a pastor who used to be a crack addict.

"We are afraid it will only worsen the problem. It will only attract more homeless people and drug addicts to come to San Francisco," said Frank Lee from the Coalition Against Drugs.

To establish such centers in San Francisco would violate federal law. The city and state are looking for a way around that.

State Senator Scott Wiener supports their establishment. "Drugs are not a criminal problem. Drugs are a health problem. People are going to do what they are do. You can't just berate people or criminalize people into not being addicted to drugs. When someone is addicted, what they need is help."

Supporters claim that safe injection centers in other countries do help reduce overdoses and prevent the spread of HIV and Hepatitis C.
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