Philly D.A. Frontrunner Backs Safe Injection Sites for Drug Users

The mayor's task force has also recommended the idea.


Thomas Hawk/flickr

Larry Krasner, the Democratic nominee for Philadelphia district attorney, has announced he would support "properly run and appropriately supervised injection facilities" for drug users. His Republican opponent has also expressed support for the idea, saying in April that "at the very least" a pilot program ought to be opened.

Krasner is the frontrunner in the heavily Democratic city's November election. In May the mayor's task force on the opioid crisis also recommended safe injection sites.

That sounds like a consensus, but success is hardly guaranteed. Yesterday in California, an effort to let local communities either allow or establish their own safe injection sites failed in the Senate. And in Seattle, where the city and county governments recently announced their intentions to open safe injection sites, a ballot initiative is aiming both to block those plans and to ban privately funded injection sites as well.

Safe injection sites operate in dozens of cities in nine countries, including Canada. They work well. At a minimum, private organizations should be permitted to establish such facilities.

A number of cities in states like Pennsylvania have tried syringe exchange programs without explicit state authorization before, according to a 2008 paper on the law and politics of safe injection facilities in the American Journal of Public Health. "Most local governments have some police power to protect public health, and they have the discretion to implement programs that are supported by reasonable evidence of effectiveness in combating existing health threats," the authors wrote.

The paper notes that locally authorized safe injection sites would "depend on an explicit or implicit agreement among stakeholders to avoid arrests and other legal challenges." The support of a district attorney, who decides how to prioritize criminal prosecutions, would therefore be crucial to making such sites possible.

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  1. My college dorm room’s nickname was “Safe Injection Site.”

    1. What a coincidence. Your mom’s nickname in college was “Safe Injection Site”.

      1. Crusty was homeschooled for college, so his confusion is understandable.

  2. At a minimum, private organizations should be permitted to establish such facilities.

    Both at minimum and at maximum. I don’t know if we feasibly can argue that the government should fund these sites.

    1. We certainly cannot as long as it is still illegal to use heroin. If heroin was legal, I still would be against using government funds to aide drug addicts. Private market can handle it.

  3. Why can’t I just go and buy a 1,000,000 needles and give them out. This is government try to create a roundabout way to solve a problem that they created, when an obvious aid would be to just undo their previous fuck-up.

    1. I rescind this comment as I think I’m wrong.

  4. The paper notes that locally authorized safe injection sites would “depend on an explicit or implicit agreement among stakeholders to avoid arrests and other legal challenges.”

    And perhaps a small tax on every dose of heroin injected will cover the costs. Like the small (large) tax on soda in Philly.

  5. If someone from Filthadelphia is for it then I’m against it.

    1. What are you from Allentown or something?

      1. Eugene has scrapple flowing in his veins, it is known.

  6. Unless these ‘safe injection sites’ are also ‘drug sale sites’ there’s no point to having them.

    Junkies buy, and they shoot up–as close to point of acquisition as possible. Having it on you and not using it is just not an option.

    Until you’ve seen someone who was relatively sane just a few seconds before, sitting in a car, in fairly full view, getting high BEFORE driving home because he h…well, they, pretty much all of them–had to have at least a taste–and once it’s a taste, it’s all of it.

    And these are functional junkies.

    I can only imagine what it’s like these days with the fentanyl and what not.

  7. Is that the Liberty Bell? These days it’s in a fortified bunker and you have to book a tour to get within 100 feet of it. I remember seeing it up close back in the day, but was it ever just siting outside?

    1. I blame Nicolas Cage.

  8. I bet the taxpayers forced to pay for government-run shooting galleries will be really happy if they’re located right in their own neighborhood

    They work well. At a minimum, private organizations* should be permitted to establish such facilities.

    Anybody remember when this used to be a “libertarian website”? Nah, me neither.

    (*Has any private organization ever offered to run a “private injection facility” on its own dime? The only private sector, privately funded orgs that have ever run them are illegal heroin dealers)

    1. As libertarians, I think we can all agree that the only unobjectionable use of taxpayer funds is to build places for people to take dangerous drugs.

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