Eric Risberg / AP
Senior officials from 13 US states joined in Philadelphia to urge a federal court to allow the opening of a site where people can inject illegal opioids under medical supervision, the latest escalation of a legal battle with the Department of Justice can determine if injection sites, can start operating in America.
In Philadelphia, where opioid overdoses kill three times more people than homicides, Safehouse, a non-profit organization, is working on launching an injection site to fight the opioid crisis in the city.
But the Justice Department has launched a legal challenge to block it before it opens, claiming that such a site violates federal drug laws and would allow the use of drugs.
In a court friend's brief presented Wednesday by leaders of five cities – Ithaca, New York, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, and Seattle – injection sites, widely used in parts of Canada and the United States. Europe, must be part of how cities react to the opioid crisis.
"The opioid crisis has had a serious impact on US cities and counties, including ours," city leaders wrote. "Despite our efforts, existing methods to fight the opioid crisis have proved insufficient or at least too late for too many of our residents."
In a separate brief, attorneys general in Washington, DC and seven states, including Michigan, New Mexico, and Oregon, also urged the court to allow the site to open. injection. "As experimental laboratories and key regulators of public health, states should be free to adopt state-of-the-art medical interventions," wrote the top law enforcement officials. . Other law enforcement officials from the states that signed the brief are from Delaware, Minnesota, Virginia, and Colorado.
The opioid crisis has also resulted in alarming death rates in cities exploring injection sites like the one Philadelphia is pursuing.
In New York alone, more than 1,000 people die each year from overdoses. "That means more New Yorkers are dying from an opioid overdose than homicides, suicides and road accidents combined," city leaders said briefly. .
But legal uncertainty and other problems have slowed efforts to open supervised injection sites. However, city leaders say no other option is able to significantly reduce fatal overdoses.
"These trends have continued despite considerable efforts by local governments and health departments to address the crisis, including policies to develop drug therapies, clean needle exchanges and naloxone distribution to first responders. to public health workers, "city officials wrote. .
Ministry of Justice officials say the idea of a supervised injection site violates so-called "crack house" laws that make it criminal to own a property that uses drugs, but Safehouse planners and an alliance of local leaders violating the laws of the 1980s. have never intended to apply to what they consider to be a medical facility in the midst of a public health crisis.
Municipal leaders write that sites "would be places where drug addicts can get medical surveillance and treatment." [inject drugs] in a supervised environment where they can be saved if necessary, rather than on the street or in a break room. "
A series of other briefs were also filed Wednesday in Philadelphia Federal Court in support and opposition to the proposed site. Of these, one written by a group of 64 law enforcement officials and former members of law enforcement, including former public servants of the Department of Justice, claiming that federal prosecutors "distorted federal drug law" by attempting to prevent the country's first attempt to open a supervised injection site.
But a group of six neighborhood associations around the Kensington neighborhood in Philadelphia, at the heart of the opioid crisis in the city and the preferred site of the injection site, wrote a brief plea to the court to prohibit access to the site in their community, fearing such an installation. invite to crime and drug trafficking.
"Law-abiding citizens who go to work and young children who go to school are at risk of getting caught up in the violence and becoming the target of resellers looking to increase their clientele," he said. wrote the neighborhood group, which filed the file with the fraternal police order of the city.
"The police, experts in this field, know what the Congress knew.They learned through bitter experiences that the concentration of drug use in a place such as that proposed by Safehouse would bring more drug addicts, resellers and crimes. in already occupied neighborhoods. " suffering, "says the memoir.
Yet state attorneys general reports that studies have shown that injection sites have proven that injection sites are saving lives in other countries and that it is time for the United States to chance to the controversial measure.
"States in metropolitan areas should be free to experiment with this life-saving intervention, as well as others, without fear that public health agencies or physicians in their jurisdictions will be able to do so." subject to prosecution, "wrote the group.
The case is underway in Philadelphia before US Judge Gerald A. McHugh, who will rule some time after the July 22 filing deadline.