US Judge says safe injection sites don’t violate federal drug laws

Earlier this week, a judge in Philly deemed that supervised injection sites to help prevent overdoses do not violate federal drug laws. 

U.S. District Judge Gerald A. McHugh said there are now laws to cover something like this.

This ruling could help Philly open the United States’ first legally sanctioned site, where folks can inject/do drugs and have medical assistance on hand, in case they overdose. 

McHugh said during his ruling that, “Safe injection sites were not considered by Congress and could not have been, because their use as a possible harm reduction strategy among opioid users had not yet entered public discourse.” 

The judge also mentioned in his ruling that it is not up to him to determine whether or not safe injection sites are the solution to dealing with the opioid crisis. He said that his task was only to determine if a 1986 law, known as the “Crack house stature,” applied to Safehouse’s proposed plan. 

U.S. Attorney William McSwain, an appointee of President Trump, went to court with Philly to stop the opening of the center. McSwain told that, “This case is obviously far from over,” and added that, “We look forward to continuing to litigate it, and we are very confident in our legal position.”

Mayor Jim Kenney and District Attorney Larry Krasner are in support of creating a safe injection site because they believe it could save lives. 

Ronda Goldfein, Safehouse’s vice president and the director of the AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania, told that although this is a victory, they still have far to go, “It’s not over by any stretch. At this very first level of judicial determination, the court has agreed that that law is not intended to stop us from saving lives.”

Philly has been hit hard with the overdose epidemic, losing over 3,000 residents alone in the past three years. The hope is that these safe injection sites will help reduce overdose-related deaths. 

Based on the results of this determination, it is still unclear if or when Philly will get a safe injection site.


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