After losing last fall in King County Superior Court, opponents of safe drug consumption sites will get another chance to make their case.
The Washington State Supreme Court has agreed to hear an appeal from supporters of Initiative 27, which would ban safe consumption sites across King County. The court has not yet set a date for the hearing.
Safe consumption sites would provide a place for people to use illegal drugs like heroin under the supervision of medical staff. The sites, modeled off similar places around the world, would also offer connections to treatment services. A city/county task force recommended opening two sites in King County, with one inside the City of Seattle, but local officials are now only working on plans for a Seattle site.
Broader than the term "safe injection sites," safe consumption sites would also allow smoking. Several American cities are considering opening sanctioned consumption sites in an effort to prevent fatal overdoses. A study published last year found that an unsanctioned safe injection site in the United States oversaw 2,574 injections by more than 100 users in two years. During that time, two overdoses occurred, both reversed with naloxone.
Initiative 27 would ban the sites countywide. It received enough signatures to qualify for the ballot. Among its funders was Joshua Freed, a developer and council member in Bothell; an investor/developer pair that helps bankroll Tim Eyman; and Seattle businesswoman Faye Garneau. However, a lawsuit from supporters of safe consumption sites successfully blocked I-27 from the ballot.
In her ruling, King County Superior Court Judge Veronica Galvan said the initiative exceeded the scope of local initiative authority because it determines public health policy. "Our Supreme Court has recognized the broad authority public health authorities have in protecting public health and addressing responses to public health crisis," Galvan wrote.
Safe King County, the group fighting safe consumption sites and supporting I-27, said in a statement the earlier ruling "goes against Washington's long history of supporting voter rights and the initiative process."