Seattle, WA – A King County superior court judge ruled on Monday that voters don’t have the legal authority to block “safe injection sites” from opening.
Initiative 27, would have blocked the opening of the sites where addicts can inject heroin and other drugs in a “safe” environment.
“I-27 in its entirety extends beyond the scope of the local initiative power,” Judge Veronica Alicea Galvan wrote, according to KING5.
The judge ruled that by allowing the voters to decide on blocking the sites, they would be impinging upon that authority of the county.
Major cities around Seattle have already voted to ban the safe injection sites, but say that banning the sites within their city limits isn’t good enough.
The City of Seattle and King County are moving forward with proposed plans to open supervised heroin safe injection site centers.
According to KOMO News, the two planned ‘supervised drug consumption sites’ would be modeled after the only safe injection site in North America, called Insite, which is located in Vancouver, British Columbia.
The facility is paid for by Canadian taxpayers and is located in the middle of Vancouver’s worst drug-infested neighborhood.
One illegal drug user, Vancouver resident Sean Reed, age 52, said that he had been a junkie since he was 12 years old.
He said that anything was available at the facility, either inside or out, legal or illegal. He should know, he sells street drugs at the safe injection site. The City of Seattle is trying to set up two sites in areas where drug users are most prevalent.
Insite officials claim that their facility works to save lives. According to its manager, “there hasn’t been an increase in crime rates, there hasn’t been an increase in anything in the community.”
He also said that they have a good partnership with the Vancouver Police Department, which declined comment when asked by the media.
At the Insite facility, drug users can shoot up under the supervision of a nurse. One user said that it enables him, since the supplies are free and he has no incentive to stop. He also said that he had overdosed inside the facility once and a total of eight times outside the facility.
One man recently overdosed at the front doors of the Insite facility and a nurse reportedly came outside, and gave him a drug to reverse the overdose. This occurred in the presence of Seattle media.
Reed also said that he sells heroin at the front door to the facility. Opponents of the proposed facilities in Seattle and King County are concerned about that very issue: the increase in availability of drugs at the facility.
In order for the plan to work, law enforcement would have to avoid enforcing drug laws around the facility. While this may sound absurd, King County already doesn’t prosecute personal-use amounts of hard drugs such as heroin and methamphetamine.
Drug use is so prevalent in the area, prosecutors claim they would be overwhelmed if they had to prosecute felony drug cases.
King County Public Health officials are now working on opening sites in the county.