Deputy AG: Ex­pect le­gal ac­tion if cities open safe in­jec­tion sites

Ripon Bulletin - - Nation -

PHILADEL­PHIA (AP) — U.S. Deputy At­tor­ney Gen­eral Rod Rosen­stein told a Philadel­phia news site the fed­eral gov­ern­ment will take swift and ag­gres­sive le­gal ac­tion if Philadel­phia and other cities open su­per­vised in­jec­tion sites for il­le­gal drug users.

Rosen­stein made the com­ments in a Wed­nes­day in­ter­view with WHYY . U.S. Depart­ment of Jus­tice of­fi­cials had pre­vi­ously de­clined to com­ment on the sites that Philadel­phia and about a dozen other ju­ris­dic­tions are con­sid­er­ing in re­sponse to the opi­oid cri­sis, other than to say they would be il­le­gal.

Philadel­phia of­fi­cials an­nounced in Jan­uary they want to open safe havens where peo­ple can in­ject drugs, an ef­fort to com­bat sky­rock­et­ing opi­oid over­doses in the city.

Philadel­phia has the high­est opi­oid death rate of any large U.S. city. More than 1,200 peo­ple fa­tally over­dosed in the city in 2017, one-third more than in 2016.

City lead­ers should ex­pect le­gal ac­tion as soon as the city opens a fa­cil­ity, Rosen­stein said.

“I’m not aware of any valid ba­sis for the ar­gu­ment that you can en­gage in crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity as long as you do it in the pres­ence of some­one with a med­i­cal li­cense,” he said.

Rosen­stein said he “wouldn’t spec­u­late” on what the en­force­ment would look like or who might be ar­rested, but said fed­eral of­fi­cials have their eyes on Philadel­phia.

City of­fi­cials said Rosen­stein’s dec­la­ra­tion won’t de­ter them from forg­ing ahead with the plans.

Pub­lic Health Com­mis­sioner Dr. Thomas Far­ley told the news site he was dis­ap­pointed with the Jus­tice Depart­ment’s re­sponse, but added there was sim­i­lar back­lash to early nee­dle-ex­change pro­grams meant to curb the AIDS epi­demic. Now, such ex­changes are ac­cepted.

“No­body likes the idea of watch­ing some­one who is ad­dicted just in­ject drugs. We want to get all of those peo­ple into treat­ment, but we all have to rec­og­nize that, de­spite all of our ef­forts, many peo­ple are not go­ing to drug treat­ment,” he said. “In a cri­sis like this, with as many peo­ple dy­ing as we have, it’s worth a try.”

A hand­ful of cities in­clud­ing New York, San Fran­cisco and Seat­tle are seek­ing to open safe in­jec­tion sites, and oth­ers al­ready op­er­ate over­seas and in Canada. At least one unau­tho­rized safe in­jec­tion site has been op­er­at­ing un­der the radar some­where in the U.S. since 2014.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.