Supreme Court Is Urged to Address Safe Injection Sites

Supreme Court Is Urged to Address Safe Injection Sites

The U.S. Supreme Court is being urged by groups around the country to take on a case concerning the legality of establishing safe injection sites where people can use illicit drugs in a medically supervised environment.

The latest petitioners are led by District of Columbia Attorney General Karl A. Racine. Racine was joined by 11 other attorneys general in a friend-of-the-court brief urging the court to hear the case supporting states’ rights to enact public health policies that can prevent opioid overdose deaths and treat those suffering from opioid use disorder.

The U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Jan. 12, in a split 2-1 decision, that Safehouse, a Pennsylvania nonprofit, could not run a “safe injection site” where users could interact with medical professionals. The Trump administration sued to prevent Safehouse from operating the program. The brief asks the Supreme Court to review the court of appeals ruling.

Besides Racine, the document was signed by attorneys general from Delaware, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Virginia. Representatives from 14 cities and counties and the mayor of Philadelphia, which is at the center of the current case, have filed amicus briefs in support of the case.

Hardly anyone these days argues there’s not a serious opioid problem in the U.S. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 136 Americans die each day from opioid overdoses. The attorney generals argue that safe injection sites could help solve this dilemma.

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The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated the opioid crisis, taking the lives of far too many Americans, including District residents who continue to overdose,” Racine said. “To reduce the number of needless opioid overdoses, we need creative and aggressive preventive measures — like those offered by Safehouse — which allows individuals suffering with addiction to safely access injection sites that are staffed with appropriate medical, mental health and other professionals who can also offer recovery treatment and counseling.” 

A 2020 study found that people “who reported using supervised injection facilities on an at least weekly basis had a reduced risk of dying compared to those who reported less than weekly or no use of this health service.”

The Biden administration has been supportive of efforts to offer aid to addicts and those using opioids. He declared an Opioid Awareness Week in August and said bold actions will be taken to prevent overdoses and related deaths, and to enhance support for individuals with substance use disorders. Those goals generally align with those of Safehouse, which is designed to allow medical professionals to help those in need in a safe place.

This piece was originally published by Marijuana Moment and has been edited or modified by The News Station.

Leland Rucker is a journalist who has been covering the cannabis industry culture since Amendment 64 legalized adult-use in Colorado, for Boulder Weekly, Sensi and now TheNewsStation.com. His full bio is here.

Leland Rucker is a journalist who has been covering the cannabis industry culture since Amendment 64 legalized adult-use in Colorado, for Boulder Weekly, Sensi and now TheNewsStation.com. His full bio is here.

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