Drug Policy

Seattle Ballot Initiative Would Block Safe Drug Injection Centers

Some would rather have overdoses than risk "destigmatizing" addiction.


Drug injection
Maxim Evdokimov / Dreamstime

Leaders in Seattle and King County are pushing forward with plans to open two sites where drug addicts may shoot up safely, but local voters are going to get the chance to block it.

At the start of the year, Seattle's mayor and King County's executive announced they were going to build two safe-consumption facilities, based on recommendations from a local task force. The goal is to reduce the likelihood of heroin and opioid overdoses by giving addicts a place to shoot up (that's also out of public view) that is monitored for safety. The model they're pursuing is similar to a facility that has been operating for years in Vancouver.

Like many other communities in the United States, King County is seeing a surge in drug overdose deaths: 332 for 2016. They've seen increases in drug overdose deaths every year for the past seven years.

But there are some who think reducing the possibility of harm through with an injection facility endorses drug decriminalization and even legalization. So opponents of the facility have gathered signatures in order to force a vote. From the Seattle Times:

Opponents of safe-injection sites argue they amount to the government condoning heroin injection. State Sen. Mark Miloscia, R-Federal Way, a leading critic, has said the sites are a step toward legalization and decriminalization.

"We are losing control when we're de-stigmatizing these dangerous drugs," Miloscia said earlier this year. "We need to teach our children and promote not taking these dangerous drugs and stigmatize people who get hooked on drugs to get into treatment."

Initiative 27 would ban any public expenditures to create a supervised drug consumption site. It also makes it a civil violation with fines of up to $5,000 for any private organization to operate a facility to supervise the consumption of any federally prohibited drug, except for marijuana.

So to be clear, this is not just about keeping the government from spending taxpayer money to subsidize addiction. The libertarian-minded private solution to reduce the potential harms of drug addiction would also be forbidden.

Unfortunately, what we've been left with is the typical drug war mentality of hitting drug addicts and dealers with harsher criminal penalties and mandatory minimums. Rather than investing in tools and mechanisms to prevent drug overdoses, we increasingly see communities attempting to prosecute the people who provided these drugs with homicide instead. So instead of fewer dead people, you get dead people and somebody sentenced to decades or life in prison.

The initiative has been scheduled to appear on a ballot in February. But a public health group has just recently filed a lawsuit attempting to block it from a public vote.

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  1. Did y’all have some sort of meeting about Seattle today or something?

  2. They should just allow privately-owned safe consumption sites like they do with alcohol.

    1. It better be smoke-free.

      1. The shelters are smoke-free, which is why no one wants to go there. The shelters have rules. A tent-city under Spokane street? No rules.

  3. “Initiative 27 would ban any public expenditures to create a supervised drug consumption site.”

    Good. It’s about time we got the narcs out of the bars.

  4. It’s fascinating to ponder how much they must have to shut down their brains to not recognize that what makes heroin and other drugs dangerous is that the government makes it illegal to make them safe, unlike everything else in sight, which is either regulated by the government or regulated by the market. When customers can sue the bejayzus out of manufacturers for shoddy products, businesses tend to not make shoddy products. When you go to prison for complaining about shoddy products, businesses tend to make shoddy products.

    Fucking incentives, how do they work?

  5. “We are losing control when ________”

    And that’s all that matters.

  6. I don’t blame them. I wouldn’t want junkies shooting up in public either and I certainly wouldn’t want to pay for them to do so.

    1. But you’re okay paying for their emergency care when they OD, or for the legal machine to grind them up when they get caught with it?

      1. I am not okay with paying for their emergency care or the legal either. They should have to sign a document to pay back the state if they get straight. If a defendant is found guilty via undeniable evidence or un-coerced admission, they should pay for their incarceration through work if necessary. Why should all of us pay for some a-hole who broke the law. I don’t want to pay for f*ck ups, greedy politicians or commie socialist scumbag ideas, that’s just me though.

      2. But you’re okay paying for their emergency care when they OD, or for the legal machine to grind them up when they get caught with it?

        No, just let them die when they OD. As for the legal machine grinding them up, that’s fine too. After all, they’re dirty fucking junkies. So fuck ’em. /sarc

      3. I think we’re paying more funeral costs than we are emergency care.

  7. RE: Seattle Ballot Initiative Would Block Safe Drug Injection Centers

    “Some would rather have overdoses than risk “destigmatizing” addiction.”

    Better dead than stigmatized.
    I think we can all agree with that.

  8. I support SIFs – but not with public money. Because then it creates a perverse incentive where the government actually recruits people to do drugs. #ishitunot

  9. “We have to do something about opioid deaths!”

    does something that reduces opioid deaths

    “Obviously not that. Stop doing what I say, you *know* what I meant!”

  10. “We are losing control when we’re de-stigmatizing these dangerous drugs,” Miloscia said earlier this year. “We need to teach our children and promote not taking these dangerous drugs and stigmatize people who get hooked on drugs to get into treatment.”

    [Emphasis added] Interesting choice of words. Your mask is slipping, fuck-nugget. And I fail to how stigmatizing drug addicts will get them into treatment.

    Nice alt-text. Although if they had really read the comments they’d be holding a knife to their wrist instead of a needle.

  11. Leaders in Seattle and King County are pushing forward with plans to open two sites where drug addicts may shoot up safely, but local voters are going to get the chance to block it.

    What I don’t understand is, the entire city of Seattle is already a safe injection site.

    Now it may not be “safe” by the definition what the people who want to open the sites consider ‘safe’, ie have medical personnel standing by with equipment and drugs to counteract overdoses, but as far as being harassed by law enforcement for your open-air drug use camp, you’re pretty much free to do whatever you want.

    I’m for safe injection sites as a broad concept, but I can understand why people are wanting to block these. It probably has less to do with the specifics of “destigmatizing” drug use, and more of a broad fear that the city leaders let this problem get out of control (who the fuck am I kidding, the city leaders didn’t let it get out of control, they actually encouraged it by partnering with corrupt organizations that get funding directly based on homeless head count) and so I think it’s a gesture to draw a line somewhere.

    Because I’m a libertarian asshole, I can point to evidence that the problem is taking care of itself: I believe that drug overdose deaths have tripled in King County over the last few years.

    But “insightful snark” aside. I don’t agree with the initiative, but I definitely understand where it’s coming from.

    1. To add to the sentiment, every suburb and connected down around Seattle is also moving to ban safe injection sites. Seattle has become the disease that’s spreading to every town in the surrounding area, and people are getting fed up. Let me put it this way, when Burien is sick of the crime that Seattle is sending its way, you know things have gone completely sideways. Homeless camps are popping up in practically every green space– even when you can’t see them, they’re there, and both property crime and violent crime are on the rise around every one.

      So far, the only thing that seems to get the city interested in closing a camp is when someone is finally killed. But the camp is usually back open within a week.

  12. If it’s not happening in a marital bed, it’s not a legitimate form of pleasure, and even then you should do your best not to enjoy it too much. Murica Jesus.

  13. I’m for legalizing all the drugs but voting against taxpayer-funded shooting galleries is “libertarianism 101”

  14. except for marijuana.

    I love that part. WTF?

    Drugs are drugs. Alcohol, the devil weed, whatever. Equal treatment. As in keep the government out of it.
    I cannot find any evidence that there were disasters in the US due to opium dens back in the day. Due to stupid people, sure, but not directly to the opium dens.
    In San Francisco;
    The jumping-off point for the gold fields was San Francisco, and the city’s Chinatown became the site of numerous opium dens soon after the first Chinese arrived, around 1850. However, from 1863 to the end of the century, anti-vice laws imposed by the new municipal code book banned visiting opium rooms in addition to prostitution and other laws that could injure “public morals”. (My scare quotes, Gotta hate the public morals, they usually aren’t)
    In New York;
    At the time, all the city’s opium dens were run by Chinese, except for one on 23rd Street that was run by an American woman and her two daughters. Kane remarked that New York’s opium dens were one place “where all nationalities seem indiscriminately mixed”. (See, opium dens are good. They don’t discriminate.)
    International impacts;
    When the city of San Francisco began taxing imported opium for smoking, the trade was diverted to Victoria, and, from there, much of the opium was smuggled south into the United States. (Sounds like New York and tobacco)

    1. Drugs are good for racial harmony, which is why they were banned in the first place.

      1. Chinese communists thought otherwise.

        The Mao Zedong government is generally credited with eradicating both consumption and production of opium during the 1950s using unrestrained repression and social reform.[citation needed] Ten million addicts were forced into compulsory treatment, dealers were executed, and opium-producing regions were planted with new crops. Remaining opium production shifted south of the Chinese border into the Golden Triangle region.[39]

      2. It took British Libertarians to introduce Opium to the Chinese as a purely recreational drug.

        The solution to Britain’s problem was opium. Although opium had been used in China for medicinal purposes for a long time, it had not been used as a recreational drug. The British introduced opium to China in 1825, and soon, not surprisingly, Chinese began to be addicted to the drug. The emperor outlawed the possession, use, and trade in opium, but the profits were so immense, that an illegal trade quickly developed. The East India Company in India supplied all the opium the Chinese wanted and the Chinese government was unable to stop the smuggling. The balance of trade gradually reversed.

        Far out, man.

    2. The Chinese Emperor on Opium in 1810:

      Opium has a harm. Opium is a poison, undermining our good customs and morality. Its use is prohibited by law. Now the commoner, Yang, dares to bring it into the Forbidden City. Indeed, he flouts the law! However, recently the purchasers, eaters, and consumers of opium have become numerous. Deceitful merchants buy and sell it to gain profit. The customs house at the Ch’ung-wen Gate was originally set up to supervise the collection of imports (it had no responsibility with regard to opium smuggling). If we confine our search for opium to the seaports, we fear the search will not be sufficiently thorough. We should also order the general commandant of the police and police- censors at the five gates to prohibit opium and to search for it at all gates. If they capture any violators, they should immediately punish them and should destroy the opium at once. As to Kwangtung [Guangdong] and Fukien [Fujian], the provinces from which opium comes, we order their viceroys, governors, and superintendents of the maritime customs to conduct a thorough search for opium, and cut off its supply. They should in no ways consider this order a dead letter and allow opium to be smuggled out![17]

      1. Do you find it as curious as I do that the ruling class always sees fit to deny drugs and other pleasures to the peasants, but the ruling class is never so prone to being corrupted by them as to ban them for themselves?

  15. Some would rather have overdoses than risk “destigmatizing” addiction.

    Except that’s not what it’s about at all.

    It’s about not using taxpayers money to fund facilities and a slew of government workers(unionized, naturally, with pension) so that junkies can shoot up ‘safely’.

    When you start with a lie, you just keep lying.

    1. I agree that the government should not fund this. However, this is not the main reason people oppose this; it’s mostly just anti-drug knee-jerk reactions. You can see this from the “de-stigmatizing” comment.

      Such centers should be run and paid for by individual citizens or businesses who want them. Drugs should all be legal. That is the libertarian solution.

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