Panel discusses drug-injection sites in King County

State Sen. Mark Miloscia opposes injection sites. (Photo: KOMO News)

SEATTLE -- Penny Legate often talks about her daughter, Marah, who died of a heroin overdose in 2012.

On Thursday, she told King County's Board of Health that its members needed to look not just at the statistics but also at the people impacted.

"I just like to show people Mara's face because she was a brilliant young woman when she died. She struggled with addiction for about five years so it was a long struggle for her," Legate said. "How do we stop this streaming of people into the addiction cycle?"

King County's heroin and opioid task force, of which Legate is a members, presented an extensive plan to the Board of Health on Thursday. The plan, unveiled last month, includes better access to life-saving medications and opening two supervised drug-injection sites.

"Some of the work we have been doing during the process of the task force has already started," said Dr. Jeff Duchin of Public Health -- Seattle & King County.

Addicts already have greater access to medicine and treatment. Task force members are waiting to hear from city and county leaders on the proposal to open drug-injection sites.

Duchin said what's new and novel are the sites "were people can use drugs under the supervision of a health care provider."

The possibility of having an IV site in his community infuriates Republican state Sen, Mark Miloscia.

He traveled to the only IV site on the West Coast in Vancouver, B.C. He was horrified by what he saw.

"It was a terrible sight to see. They would go in, they were at death's doorstep and they were dying and we're going to contribute to their slow suicide with this site?"

Miloscia supports treatment and says he will push the Legislature to fund it. But if a proposal to seek funding for a supervised injection sites comes to Olympia, he'll fight it -- whether he's in the Legislature or if he is elected state auditor.

Task force members expect to hear from the mayors of Seattle, Auburn and Renton, as well as King County Executive Dow Constantine, on the injection sites by the end of the year.

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