Several cities could soon face a legal showdown with the Trump administration over efforts to open “supervised injection facilities” where drug addicts can shoot up with powerful illegal drugs while trained personnel stand by to prevent fatal overdoses, McClatchy Newspapers reports. San Francisco plans to open the nation’s first two authorized injection facilities in July. Philadelphia and Seattle are also pursuing similar sites. Other large cities like Denver and New York City and even smaller towns, like Ithaca, N.Y. have considered such facilities. The Massachusetts Medical Society and the Massachusetts Health & Hospital Association want a pilot facility in their state.
Research on injection sites around the world have found they prevent fatal overdoses and reduce the spread of infectious diseases like Hepatitis C and HIV by providing sterile needles and equipment. They also connect drug users with counseling, treatment and other services without increasing area drug trafficking and other crime, studies have found. Armed with naloxone to reverse overdoses, injection facility staff provide a lifesaving backstop to addicts whose stash may be tainted with lethal fentanyl, said Taeko Frost of the Harm Reduction Coalition in Oakland. By being in illegal possession of controlled substances, every user who visits an injection site would violate drug-possession provisions of the 1970 Controlled Substances Act, said Katherine Pfaff of the Drug Enforcement Administration. The sites themselves would violate the law’s “crack house statute” that prohibits the use of a location to manufacture, store, distribute or use controlled substances, Pfaff said. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is likely to oppose safe injection sites, but he might let local U.S. Attorneys decide how best to deal with an injection facility in their jurisdiction.