Harm Reduction

Candidates Oppose Safe Injection Sites to Get an Edge Over the Other

A GOP candidate claims she's the only person in the race who opposes a life-saving opioid policy, but her Democratic opponent is against it as well.



Two candidates fighting for a seat in the Pennsylvania legislature are rushing to oppose a lifesaving solution to the opioid crisis. Needless to say, that's not how they're describing their policy platforms.

In the race to represent the 177th District, which includes Philadelphia, both Democrat Joe Hohenstein and Republican Patty-Pat Kozlowski want voters to know that they're strongly opposed to supervised injection facilities (SIFs), also called safe injection sites.

Kozlowski's campaign has passed out literature identifying herself as the "the only candidate against safe injection sites." Another handout accuses Hohenstein of failing to fight "injection sites that allow illegal drug use." This prompted Hohenstein to let voters know that he doesn't like injection sites either. As his issues page explains, "Joe does not support establishing safe injection sites, but rather believes we need to put energy into common sense actions with proven track records of making the entire community safer."

Earlier this year, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kennedy announced plans to implement supervised injection facilities (SIFs), also called safe injection sites, around the city. An estimated 1,200 Philly residents died from overdose deaths in 2017—four times the city's number of homicides. Kennedy and other officials argue that SIFs could help reduce risk of fatal overdoses and other harms. Even figures who previously had reservations, such as Police Commissioner Richard Ross, have become more accepting of the SIF approach.

SIFs have already been implemented in 66 cities worldwide. As Reason's Jacob Sullum has noted, they have a good track record—they lead to fewer fatal overdoses, limit the spread of HIV and hepatitis C, and encourage enrollment in drug treatment programs—but are nonetheless the latest harm-reduction strategy to be opposed by drug warriors, like needle exchanges and naloxone before them.

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  1. Seems to indicate that most people are against if, if both sides are campaigning on the point.

    1. No, it just indicates that law enforcement is against it. No matter how much pro-illegal immigration/abolish ICE rhetoric you hear from the Democrats, neither major party wants to be seen as generally anti-law enforcement and both seek endorsements from local police/police unions.

      1. Is there an official police union stance on why they are against it?

        1. Drugs bad, war on drugs good. War on drugs keeps more cops employed.

          1. Drug warriors are just comprehensively lousy people.

            The sooner they die off, enabling the liberal-libertarian alliance to put the drug war in its place alongside Prohibition, the better.

            1. I wonder if it breaks your heart when you realize that all of your favorite politicians are bullshit drug warriors. Just like the Republicans.

              Oh, who am I kidding, you totally excuse it away and deny it.

              1. The important things are that the politicians and ideas I prefer are better than those you prefer, and that my preferences have been winning in America at the expense of your preferences for more than a half-century.

    2. “Both” parties in 1968 (GOP, Dems, George Wallace Independent) were completely unworried about repealing the Comstock and Dixiecrat laws banning abortion until the LP got the Suprema Corte to strike them down in the 1972-73 deliberations–this with fewer than 4000 votes. Starting the next election Dixiecrats and Mormons managed to kill the Equal Rights Amendment, but their own Coathanger Abortion Amendment has consistently failed in 42 years of fanatical pushing. Today only the most backward and superstitious Papal and Islamic nations NOBODY wants to march to force women into involuntary labor, but Canada is not one of them. Most people are in favor of the initiation of force. What of it? Does that make it right? ethical? desirable? Can they force us at gunpoint to make it stick?

      1. I question Safe Injection Sites though as a means of increased freedom. Rather they seem to often be implemented as another subsidy. Paul has documented this the best, but it seems like most SIS stuff is a means to create a government subsidized clinic. And I do have concerns about that.

        I’m all for making these sites legal, and for hopefully allowing people more legal access to known quality versions of their drug of choice. What I do question is the ultimate implementation of these clinics and how involved the state will be.

    3. Fuck these junkies. It’s one thing to have legal narcotics. It’s quite another to use luv,if money to enable their habit.

      And while I don’t give a shit what people want to put in their bodies, I neither wish to pay for their habit or be inconvenienced by junkie bad behavior.

      1. Fuck you, you authoritarian bigot, and your paltry morals, too.

        These sentiments are offered on behalf of libertarians.

        1. You’re not a libertarian you racist bigot.

          You probably missed the part where he said he didn’t care what people put in their bodies. You know, the actual libertarian view.

          1. He appears to oppose safe injection sites. That makes him an authoritarian asswipe.

            Do you claim to be a libertarian, you bigoted rube?

            1. Learn reading comprehension you dolt. I’m against using public money for them. If you want to spend your meager pay on that shit, feel free. Just don’t expect to use tax dollars to do it, and keep your junkies out of everyone else’s way.

              See? 100% pure libertarian right there.

    4. No, it indicates that most voters who’d make it a priority issue are against it. Most voters could favor it, but if other issues are more important to them, their preference on this issue is irrelevant to candidates for elected office.

  2. Being against safe injection sites literally means you prefer unsafe injection sites. No such thing as sticking your fingers in your ears and making the problem go away!

    1. Actually, many people want safe injection sites but NIMBY. In Philly, the progs in Rittenhouse Square love the idea, as long as it is in Swampoodle or Fishtown.

      1. Well, someone has to keep public buses funded.

    2. Which is funny because if we don’t offer safer injection sites and stick our fingers in our ears the problem literally and figuratively goes away.

      1. Yeah. I thought the whole point of libertarians pushing for legalization of drugs was to get the government out of it and have users be responsible for themselves. Not burden the rest of us with their habit.

        1. The lack of self-awareness associated with can’t-keep-up[ Trumpers complaining about ‘being a burden on the rest of us’ is remarkable.

          1. Do you actually have a point?

    3. How else are superstitious prohibitionists going to eliminate sinners? They’ve not the guts to do it themselves, so medieval prohibition laws that expose ALL of us to HIV, Hepatitis and bio-warfare attack will have to stand in for their lack of courage and initiative. Germany faced a similar problem with a minority most people (the 96% Christian majority) deemed selfish and expendable.

      1. So you want govt. money gong for this shit. Yeah, you’re quite the libertarian there.


    4. There is no Libertarian candidate in that race–not any I can find. That is all the excuse the looters need to legislate blindly in favor of the same Hepatitis and HIV outbreaks that occurred when they first forced drugstores to stop selling clean needles. Foreign religious fanatics with equally altruistic motives may someday notice that most productive of places to dump some ebola-infected opiates.

    5. Being against safe injection sites literally means you prefer unsafe injection sites.

      Even if there’s evidence that safe injection sites lower overdose deaths, the above statement isn’t even close to true.

      1. I mean, it’s Tony….

      2. Confucius say there’s no such thing as not making a choice.

    6. Tony , if you want to buy a building, and spend your money for this, go ahead. Just keep the tax payers out of it.

  3. “Safe injection site” means “penis” right?

    1. That’s the safe injector.

    2. Unless you’re Chuck Barris.

    1. My family often doesn’t make it at Thanksgiving because I’m the only one who likes it. In other news, I’m divorcing my family.

  4. Aren’t most people in favor of the initiation of force, and against the non-aggression principle? Yet to save their seats in leather-upholstered chairs they will do anything our spoiler votes tell them is wise–just as they did when socialist spoiler votes were not known to lead to genocidal dictatorships. We have nothing to fear but cowardice itself.

  5. Here’s a safety tip that doesn’t require politicians to get involved at all, one way or the other.

    Leave that shit alone.

    1. Bingo. Let them do their own thing. Leave the junkies alone as long as they leave everyone else alone. Simple.

      1. Why, other than authoritarianism and a generally shitty character, would you oppose safe injection practices and sites?

        1. ………..

          You misunderstood, as usual. If you want to set one up, go nuts. Just keep government out of it.

    2. Maybe just declare the city a safe injection zone and be sure clean needles are widely available.


  6. “believes we need to put energy into common sense actions with proven track records of making the entire community safer.”

    “Well, then he’s got *my* vote!”

  7. gov ca gov /wp-content/uploads/2018/09/AB-186-veto-9.30.pdf
    Governor Jerry Brown’s Veto Message for Injection Sites

  8. The effort going into this sites should be going towards legalization.

  9. “A GOP candidate claims she’s the only person in the race who opposes a life-saving opioid policy, but her Democratic opponent is against it as well.”

    Maybe this is not a proper role for a government body, and I’m no longer surprised someone should bring that position to the attention of Reason editors.
    Maybe if people want to inject whatever they please, they should be allowed to do so, without the government being involved at all.

  10. The reason the govt supervises these sites is that, say, private nonprofits taking the initiative might get taken down and their leaders arrested.

    I’ll admit that legalizing hard drugs would make me nervous, but then I see all the ways people manage to destroy themselves and their health, often quite legally, and I’m more receptive to harm-reduction ideas.

    1. I also see the stuff the cops do to users and even sober bystanders in the name of keeping people off drugs, and my skepticism of the drug war increases.

      1. IMHO a true addict – as in, dangerous to himself/others – should be subject to being placed under guardianship by concerned relatives until he cleans up a bit. I’m referring to abusers like you see in scared-straight type commercials, not all users however misguided.

        1. “IMHO a true addict – as in, dangerous to himself/others – should be subject to being placed under guardianship by concerned relatives until he cleans up a bit. I’m referring to abusers like you see in scared-straight type commercials, not all users however misguided.”

          Eddy, there are two assumptions here which I doubt you can support:
          1) Determining who is a “true addict”. Example: I smoked tobacco for some 50 years until I decided not to. I was assumed to be a “true addict” until I wasn’t.
          2) That some form of incarceration (and, yes, that’s what it is), would effect a change in that person’s activities.
          If you have support for those claims, let’s see it. Until then, I’m down strongly on the side that people (including idiots) get to live their lives and LAO die as they please:
          “2 Yosemite National Park visitors die in fall from overlook”
          “SAN FRANCISCO ? Two visitors died in a fall from a popular overlook at Yosemite National Park that allows people to walk to the cliff’s edge, where there is no railing, an official said Thursday.”

          Hint: There’s a cliff there.
          Prior hint: Geezing opiots may be harmful to your health.

          1. I clarified specifically that I meant dangerous to himself or others, as in, for example, can’t hold down a job, ends up homeless, or the like.

            I doubt it’s a cure-all, but families may support this as part of a de-escalation of the drug war. And there would be fewer SWAT raids, burnt babies, etc.

  11. Fuck “harm reduction”. It’s progressive bullshit that empowers public health authorities, the therapeutic state, and the addiction industrial complex. Decriminalize/legalize.

  12. Generally I’m in favor of harm reduction strategies.
    Ideally they should be funded entirely with private money, of course.
    As a compromise I’d be conditionally okay with diverting some drug war money to pay for harm reduction. But it’s gotta be cost neutral.
    No way should this be some brand new program. That’s just absurd – government pays to throw you in a cage for getting high, AND government pays for a safe needle for you to get high? That’s just silly.

    But more broadly, I don’t think it is particularly wise nor effective to simply dismiss the problem of drug addiction entirely. It is one thing to say “I disagree with your proposed solution to this problem”. Fair enough. But, it is quite another to say “…and furthermore I don’t even give a shit about your problem in the first place.” Our message IMHO shouldn’t be that drugs should be legal so that junkies can get high and kill themselves without inconveniencing everyone else. Our message should be that drugs should be legal so that junkies who get high will have *legal and safe* outlets for getting help for their problems, without fear of being thrown in a cage.

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