An initiative aimed at getting a measure on the November ballot to prohibit so-called “safe injection sites” in King County, Washington has reportedly gotten enough signatures, according to KING5 News, the NBC affiliate in Seattle.
Opponents of the proposed “safe injection site” had until July 31 to get 47,443 signatures on their citizen initiative, according to KOMO News. KING reports they have collected “nearly 70,000 signatures” on Initiative 27, suggesting there is more than just token opposition to the proposal that has the support of County Executive Dow Constantine.
Seattle and King County got national headlines earlier this year when the proposal surfaced to create “safe injection sites.” It was seen as a move that didn’t help people overcome their addictions, but merely enabled drug abusers to keep abusing, without fear of arrest.
Why is this important? If the plan gets off the ground in liberal western Washington, other liberal city and county governments around the country might adopt the same strategy.
Critics of the idea insisted that all this did was turn Seattle and King County into a magnet for homeless people, especially heroin addicts. Conservative talk radio in Seattle has been down on the idea since it was first announced months ago. At that time, the King County Board of Health voted unanimously to recommend safe injection sites – one in Seattle and one elsewhere in the county – to the County Council.
If the county were to open such a site, it would be the first of its kind in this country. There is a project in Vancouver, B.C., but a report aired by VOA News in 2014 left a mixed message.
According to the KING story, “The campaign against the proposal will go before King County Council on Monday urging council members to allow voters to have a say in November before the safe injection sites open.”
Supporters of the sites contend that they will reduce fatalities from drug overdoses. The Puget Sound region, especially in and around Seattle, appears to be in the midst of an opioid epidemic.
If the initiative is placed on the November ballot and is approved by voters, King County would be prohibited from funding and operating a safe injection site.
Nearly six months ago, KING visited the site in Vancouver and reported what critics said about such sites becoming magnets for drug addicts. At that time, a man identified as Bogdan Herindan, a user at the Vancouver injection site, “agreed with that sentiment.”
The report noted that the Vancouver site, called Insite, has been operating since 2003. Last year, according to the B.C. Coroners Service quoted by KING, “914 people died in 2016 from heroin and opioid abuse, an all-time high.”
Further, KING reported in February that “officials at Insite said about 8-12 people a day have overdosed, but medical professionals were on hand with oxygen and naloxone, a drug used to reverse the impact of opioids.”
At this point, voters in King County will start asking themselves if this is the kind of program they want their tax revenues to finance. The answer may come in November.