Initiative to ban safe injection sites collects needed signatures

A citizen initiative to ban safe injection sites for drug users in King County is a step closer to making it onto the November ballot.

Initiative 27 collected nearly 70,000 signatures necessary to put the measure on the ballot, according to the campaign. The initiative would bar funding and operation of supervised drug consumption sites in the county.

Earlier this year, a county task force on opioid addiction recommended opening two sites where addicts could inject narcotics under medical supervision, a plan modeled after a similar program in Vancouver, British Columbia.

The King County Board of Health approved the recommendation by a vote of 12-0 in January; the plan is also supported by King County Executive Dow Constantine and Seattle Mayor Ed Murray.

Supporters of the so-called safe injection sites believe it would reduce the number of overdose deaths and connect users with needed health services. However, critics worry it will enable the use of drugs in a region facing an opioid epidemic.

“This is a monumental day for our campaign to stop government-sponsored heroin injection sites,” Safe King County chairman Joshua Freed said. 

The King County safe injection sites would be the first to open in the United States. Their locations have not yet been determined, but one site would be located within the city of Seattle; the other outside of city limits.

The campaign against the proposal will go before King County Council on Monday urging council members to allow voters to have a say in November before the safe injection sites open.

“The county needs to put I-27 on the November ballot,” Freed said. “If they choose to unnecessarily stall and put this on a later ballot, then the county should put their plans to open a heroin injection site on hold until after the vote on I-27.”

The original ordinance was filed in April by Freed, a Bothell city councilmember. The King County Clerk will review the signatures before turning them over to the King County Elections Office to be officially counted.

© 2017 KING-TV


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