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Attorneys General Urge Supreme Court to Allow Safe Injection Sites for Combatting Opioid Crisis

  • A group of 11 Democratic AGs, led by District of Columbia AG Karl Racine, filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in Safehouse v. U.S. Department of Justice, No. 21-276, in support of nonprofit Safehouse’s request that the Court overturn the U.S Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit’s decision preventing its operations as a medically supervised injection site intended to provide opioid users with immediate medical care in the event of an overdose.
  • The Trump administration had sued Safehouse, alleging that its planned injection site violated a 1986 federal statute that Congress passed with the intent to combat the crack epidemic by making it a felony for anyone to maintain a place for the purpose of using, selling or storing drugs. The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania ruled in Safehouse’s favor, finding that Safehouse’s goal was to reduce drug use, not promote it, and the Trump administration appealed. The Court of Appeals reversed the district court’s decision.
  • The amicus brief argues, among other things, that the Court should rule on the 1986 statute’s applicability to safe injection sites because many states and municipalities are considering novel solutions like safe injection sites as a means of combatting the opioid crisis, which affects every state. The brief further argues that the Third Circuit’s interpretation of the statute curtails states’ powers to act as healthcare policy laboratories and regulate public health as well as curtailing states’ police powers.