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King County may put temporary ban on supervised injection sites

KOMO News

SEATTLE -- The King County Council may put a temporary ban on supervised injection sites throughout the county. Similar to what several other cities in the county have already done.

Council member Kathy Lambert will be asking the council on Monday to vote on an ordinance prohibiting the King County Executive Dow Constantine from spending any public funds for supervised drug consumption sites until the results of the Initiative 27 are certified.

I-27 would ban the use of public funds for any public or private supervised injection site.

The initiative is similar to Insite in Vancouver, British Columbia. Insite is the first supervised drug consumption site in North America that provides medical supplies, drug paraphernalia and nurses to users who want to shoot up without the fear of being arrested.

Constantine and Seattle Mayor Ed Murray have supported such sites as an effective harm reduction method to keep users alive until they decide to go into treatment.

The King County Elections Department certified enough signatures two weeks ago to put I-27 on the ballot. On Monday, council members voted to put a 90-day hold to review the initiative for possible changes.

It will eventually make it to the February 13 ballot unless the council refuses to place it on the ballot, which is unlikely to happen.

Currently, the King County Board of Health has its representatives looking for two possible locations, one in Seattle and another outside of the city. The hope was to have one open by the end of the year.

Lambert’s proposal would prevent that from happening in Seattle or anywhere in King County.

“Let’s tell the citizens that we are not going to do that, so they can stop worrying about it for right now," Lambert said.

Lambert said some council members have hinted they may want to change some parts of the initiative and possibly place an alternative measure side-by-side with I-27 on the February 13th ballot.

It’s an idea I-27 sponsor Joshua Freed doesn’t like.

“I think any messing with that language will only go on to confuse voters, we've seen throughout this process allot of obstructionism happening," Freed said.

Supporters of supervised drug consumption sites filed a lawsuit this week in King County Superior Court in an attempt to invalidate I-27 and stop the vote in February.

The lawsuit filed by Protect Public Health, a group of health care professionals and family members of substance abusers, said I-27 should not be allowed to go forward because people don’t have the right to vote on an issue involving public health policy.

Freed disagreed.

“We’ve seen most recently marijuana approved through the initiative process so we certainly believe the initiative process is the right way” says Freed.

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