Seattle, King County move to open nation’s first safe injection sites for drug users


Constantine and Murray

Well, this should be a real enticement for tourists to visit Seattle.

From Seattle Times: Seattle and King County will create two safe-consumption sites for drug users, the first of their kind in the country, as part of an effort to halt the surge of heroin and prescription opioid overdose deaths in the region, Mayor Ed Murray and County Executive Dow Constantine announced Friday.

The sites, stocked with the overdose-reversing drug naloxone, aim to save lives and connect people dealing with addiction to treatment services.

Murray and Constantine said they will move forward with all the recommendations of the Heroin and Prescription Opiate Addiction Task Force that they convened last year, the most controversial of which are the safe drug-use sites.

Other recommendations include increasing access to naloxone and medication assisted treatment drugs like Suboxone. “The crisis is growing beyond anything we have seen before,” Murray said. “We can do something about that.”

No locations or funding have been announced, but Murray said the first of the two sites will be in Seattle, and the second will be outside the city. He also acknowledged that getting funding may be more difficult with the new presidential administration.

There are still big battles to come, as an “implementation work group,” chaired by Patty Hayes, the director of Public Health – Seattle and King County, tries to determine funding and locations for the sites, which are likely to spur protests from surrounding neighborhoods.

“These things have to exist, physically, somewhere,” said Daniel Malone, director of the Downtown Emergency Service Center, and a task force member. “There is significant trepidation about a location becoming an area that gets really damaged by having this particular activity happen there.”

Both Murray and Constantine were resolute that they could deal with any political blowback caused by the locations of the sites. “Whatever our discomfort with this as elected officials, as a community, put yourself in the place of a parent who is trying to save his or her child,” Constantine said. “We can put up with a little discomfort in order to be able to help that family heal and help that child recover.”

Said Murray: “Our biggest challenge is ahead of us, making it operational.”

The sites aim to quell the flood of overdose deaths and to connect drug users with health care and long-term treatment. They also aim to move drug abuse off sidewalks and out of alleys.

More than 600 used needles were found in Seattle’s urban core in November, said Brad Finegood, a task force member with the county Department of Community and Human Services.

“People use drugs all throughout our country,” said Caleb Banta-Green, a public health professor at the University of Washington specializing in drug abuse, and a task force member. “People use in public; they don’t want to use in public, and the public doesn’t want them using in public.”

Although no such sites exist in the United States, Vancouver, B.C., has had one since 2003. Drug users come to get clean needles and inject in a safe, supervised environment. Naloxone is used multiple times a day and is credited with preventing nearly 5,000 overdoses at the site in Vancouver.

But the site has not stopped overdose deaths outside its walls. There were 914 overdose deaths in British Columbia, which has about double the population of King County, in 2016. That’s a record number, one largely driven by the rise of fentanyl, a powerful synthetic painkiller that is as much as 100 times more powerful than morphine.

Heroin overdoses killed 132 people in King County in 2015. The death toll rises to 209 when overdoses from prescription opioids — which are, molecularly, virtually identical to heroin — are included.

In the state Legislature, Sen. Mark Miloscia, R-Federal Way, has introduced legislation that would ban safe injection sites throughout the state. “We must stop the push for decriminalization of drugs,” Miloscia said earlier this month. “Standing idly by while addicts abuse illegal drugs is not compassionate, and it does not solve the problem.”

Another potential complication: While local law enforcement is on board with the sites and Gov. Jay Inslee has said they are a local decision, the task force has not consulted with any federal agency to discuss a possible federal law-enforcement reaction. Task-force members compared the consumption sites to needle-exchange programs, which the federal government initially opposed but nevertheless allowed localities to implement.

“This is an extension of our needle exchange. We’re treating this as a local issue and we’re using tools that we have,” said Dr. Jeff Duchin, the county public health officer and the task force’s co-chair. “We don’t routinely, and we haven’t in this case, consulted any other authority, and we don’t think we need to.”


17 responses to “Seattle, King County move to open nation’s first safe injection sites for drug users

  1. How much does this cost taxpayers? Any federal govt funds that go into this newest Seattle lunacy? If so, that means we are all paying for this via our income taxes.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Seattle proving the rest of the state right again…

    Liked by 2 people

  3. It’s a great idea. These sites have reduced HIV and drug related deaths in Europe. Some addicts have actually returned to work.


  4. Creating new sanctuaries.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Why don’t we all just leave our homes unlocked, the garage wide open and our cars running while we’re not in them to further entice drug users? After all , wouldn’t that prevent breaking and entering arrests and burglary , thus lowering the jail and prison population. This entire safe drug use site proposal is as ridiculous as the suggestions above. The Mayor said it is to help families keep their loved one’s from dying from over dose, in other words if you can’t beat them join them? They would rather spend a million dollars to save a dime by promoting illegal drug use than provide beds and drug addiction clinics to help those families get their loved ones OFF heroin. makes no sense at all.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. YOU’ll see how this works out. Crime will rise, overdoses will rise, liberals will blame it on Bush and Trump.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I am against the titanically useless War on Drugs, which has destroyed more lives than the drugs themselves. National Review had the answer, back in 1968: Legalize them all. This way, police would be freed to pursue other matters, and the drug addicts themselves would either fall by the wayside or clean up their acts. That’s not “social Darwinism” per se; It puts the onus of drug use on the addicts themselves.
    That being said, what these politicians do not understand is the economics behind their decision: The reports say authorities found “600 needles” throughout one section of the city. The “good intention” of the politicians will end up attracting MORE than 600 addicts to shoot up. Long story short: MORE people will become addicted.
    Drug addiction is a horrible scourge, and America has lost more people to it than we have lost in all our wars combined. I was shocked to hear that heroin has made a comeback, and that many middle-aged housewives in the Northeast are in on it. So the problem is a spiritual one. Looks like the politicians can’t get a handle on that.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Steven . . . You have made the most excellent point, which is legalize drugs–let the users either get clean, or let them fall by the wayside! Society cannot save people from themselves. “It puts the onus of drug use on the addicts themselves.” Really, what could possibly be better than that.

      Liked by 3 people

  8. If death penalty for the ¨ camels ¨ and the drug mafia there would be no drug addicts.


  9. Ah why go half way, provide them with free drugs and needles too! In five years Seattle will be empty and part of the gene pool will be cleaned up.

    In fact why not adopt this policy in NY, Massachusetts, California, and Washington? It would be utopia that the libtards have always sought.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Angus . . . I think you may be correct.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Do you mean, allow “Natural Selection” to proceed? Does anyone else out there besides me often feel like there should be “Natural Selection” awards to states who pass/uphold stupid laws? Forget the Hollyweird awards and all the stoopid, out of historical context “proclamations” by the inbred society of the elites…….The “Naturual Selection Awards” could be REALLY entertaining…….like maybe the stats on how many kids below the age of 10 ended up in Colorado emergency rooms after the legalization of pot…….or how, in CA, a kid can bring his Dr’s note to school allowing him to “zone out on his pot break” due to his…..(fill iin the blank) affliction? Put ’em ALL on TV…back to back…the grammies…oscars….opies and dopies….and the “ridculousness” awards, and the “Natural Selection Awards….” Play them until the country gets the dry heaves….we’re pretty CLOSE already…..


  10. Gee-that’s pretty “Libertarian” of you,Angus-but you’re right.


  11. Give em all they want. Free. That would put the dealers out of business right away. And if the dealers want to keep dealing, once caught 30 or 40 years in the lockup. Oh and don’t let them leave the ‘Safe Place’. Feed em when they want to eat. Give em a pallet bed to sleep it off. Eat Shoot Sleep Repeat. No healthcare unless they enter treatment.


  12. Well, they did try the open pot buying in Holland for years, then it escalated to injectable drugs. It was given great kudos at first, but years later, they have admitted, it was a failure in the long run.
    Same for Denver selling pot, before you knew it, users were laying on the sidewalks all over the place. Not exactly what the tax payers want to see or tourist coming into town. Homelessness escalated. Families suffered.
    The solution, well, you will get ten different suggestions. There is no perfect ending.
    I am all for stopping drug sellers and offenders being treated to the point they are discouraged.
    Look what the drug trade with the Central American gang has done to Chicago.
    We have enough problems here without importing it.


  13. Why not shoot the dealers and quarantine the abusers — and see who survives? Death therapy, Bob… If you simply feed the addictions while removing the penalty? Guess what the result will be. More abuse. No reason for personal responsibility and fighting the monkey on one’s own back. I’m all for naloxone AFTER the fact. But don’t entice them to get to that point.


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