Pubdate: Fri, 27 Apr 2001
Source: Bay Area Reporter (CA)
Copyright: 2001 The Bay Area Reporter / B.A.R.
Author: Frederick Hobson
(Substance Abuse and Crime Prevention Act)


Californians spoke resoundingly with their votes going to support
Proposition 36, the Substance Abuse and Crime Prevention Act of 2000, in
last November's general election. The 61 percent margin reflects the
growing sentiment that addiction is a disease, a medical condition. Here
in San Francisco, this sentiment has prevailed for quite some time,
witness the medical model approach with which our local health
leadership and law enforcement have taken in dealing with the totality
of the drug epidemic. 

This Friday (1-3 p.m.) and Saturday (noon-2 p.m.), April 27 and 28, the
San Francisco Drug Abuse Advisory Board's public policy committee will
be hosting a town hall meeting at City Hall in the John Taylor Committee
Room 263. The meetings will focus on public comment, information,
criticism, and suggestions on what the city is doing right, what it
needs to change or improve in the treatment programs it funds, how to
increase funding (currently less than 1 percent of the city's budget),
how to involve the public in the fight against this disease, and what
policies should be in place as the city moves forward in recognizing
that we face an epidemic where costs both financially and in lives is
almost beyond comprehension. Drug abuse affects each and every San
Franciscan, if not with someone we love or know, then in our pocketbooks
and financial ledgers. 

While much of the focus is on implementing Proposition 36 in San
Francisco -- indeed, plans are being finalized now under the very able
leadership of Barbara Garcia of the Department of Public Health and
District Attorney Terence Hallinan -- there are more people with
addiction disease who are never arrested. The favorable climate for
sending those with a conviction or guilty plea to simple possession or
use of illegal narcotics into treatment should naturally be complemented
with equal fervor by expanding our treatment models to meet the needs of
Proposition 36 users and the many, many others with addiction disease
who will not be able to access treatment through the proposition.
Estimates of San Franciscans who abuse or are addicted to narcotics are
within the range of 2 to 10 percent. Many of these are recreational
users where the effects of narcotic use have not yet openly been
presented or noticed. We are not talking about marijuana, but about
drugs such as crack cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine. Take a walk
through the Tenderloin, inner Mission, Haight-Ashbury, or
Bayview-Hunter's Point neighborhoods and you will see the ravages of
addiction up close. It is not a pretty picture. 

Everyone in San Francisco has a stake in this. Please come to the

Frederick Hobson, Public Policy Chair
San Francisco Drug Abuse Advisory Board
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