Dave Boze: Thanks Philly, for bringing consumption site discussion back
The City of Seattle is once again talking about a mobile supervised consumption site for drug users.
I know what you’re thinking. “Wait a second — I thought this was a story from a year ago? I thought they opted against it?”
No — all they did was table it until they figured out what was going on in Philadelphia, where there was a court case over a similar consumption site proposal.
A federal judge in Philadelphia has now ruled that supervised injection sites do not encourage drug use, but rather represent harm reduction and medical treatment. This has Seattle rethinking its approach. City of Seattle Attorney Pete Holmes called it an “incredible ruling” and a “big win” in a statement to Q13 News.
Thanks, Philly. Thanks for that brotherly love.
Former State Sen. Mark Miloscia (R-Federal Way) took a trip to Insite, the supervised consumption site in Vancouver, Canada. He concluded after his visit that it was a way to enable people to die on the streets, exposed to the elements.
I myself did some research on Insite and talked to the Vancouver Police Department. I wanted to know what they thought of the streets of the Downtown Eastside, the area in which Insite sits that is comparable to our Pioneer Square. Did the police advise tourists to stay away from the area? Or was it a perfectly safe area?
I will tell you this — people I talked to did not want to go on the record about what they thought of injection sites. The strong impression I was left with was that law enforcement was deeply concerned, even if they didn’t say so publicly because of politics. I’m sure Seattleites can relate to that — the politics of the city versus the reality of the streets.
In a statement to KIRO Radio’s Hanna Scott, Mayor Durkan spokesperson Mark Prentice said that Seattle needs to be the “safety net” for addiction, and blamed the federal government for, in the past, stopping a “harm-reduction strategy to address the opioid crisis.” Seattle wants to point to the federal level for all of our city’s addiction problems — because Trump is the bogeyman — instead of looking locally. The state of Washington has had huge increases in tax revenue over the past several years. With that money, there have been some efforts to improve funding for mental health facilities. Some were thwarted, including by the governor’s office. We’ve got a state mental hospital that was de-certified. Maybe the problem is closer to home.
City government refers to consumption sites as CHELs — community health engagement locations. Isn’t that such a classic government euphemism? It sounds like something from Dr. Marcus Welby, M.D. Would you like a community health engagement location in your neighborhood? Why, yes, that sounds great. Then you realize that it’s a place where people can legally shoot up heroin.
However, not everyone around here supports supervised consumption sites. U.S. Attorney Brian Moran, who serves the Western District of Washington, previously told Dori that he would not “sit idly by” and let an injection site “go forward.” So, as it stands right now, the City of Seattle will still have to get around the federal government.
I suppose that if a mobile supervised injection site is established, the next thing we’ll see will be a mobile supervised vaping site.
Listen to the Dori Monson Show weekday afternoons from 12-3 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.