AG Rob McKenna argues against safe injection sites

Sep 16, 2017, 1:27 AM
safe injection sites, mckenna...
Former Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna. (AP)

Ever since King County decided to place two safe injection sites in the region, there has been vocal opposition to the plan.

Count former Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna in that camp.

“I’m not a fan, because I think there’s no getting around the fact that safe injection sites, sort of, normalize heroin addiction,” McKenna told KIRO Radio’s Zak Burns. “They socialize it as something that we don’t really like, but it’s something we will, in a sense, sanction.”

RELATED: Dwindling options for injection sites

One safe injection site is slated for Seattle. Exactly where it will be located is still unknown. It is also unknown where the county plans to place the second site outside of Seattle. That hasn’t stopped cities within the county from acting ahead of time and banning the sites — including Renton, Bellevue, Federal Way, and Auburn.

A larger opposition to the plan has arisen in the form of I-27 — an initiative to ban the sites throughout King County. It is expected to appear on the ballot in February 2018. If passed by voters, it could end King County’s plans for the sites altogether.

Safe injection sites

The theory behind the safe injection sites is that they will provide a place for addicts to use illegal drugs without fear of being arrested. The hope is that they will use the service which will have medical professionals on hand to counter any overdoses. They will also serve as a point of contact for treatment.

“I understand the argument on the other side,” McKenna said. “I actually got an email from a mom who heard I was opposed to safe injection sites. She made the argument that her son is a heroin addict, and is less likely to die from an overdose if he can shoot up at an injection site. It’s literally the question of saving some lives; maybe we will save some lives.”

“But you have to think it through farther than that, in my view,” he said. “It may be that some people are less likely to die if they can go to a safe injection site, but the extent we continue to normalize and socialize the behavior of using heroin and similar drugs, then that means that more people are going to become users and are going to become addicted.”

McKenna clarified that he doesn’t think that people will take up heroin just because there is a facility to shoot up. Rather, he wants society to maintain that the drug use is bad.

“…it sends a broader message about drug use and, inevitably, people will start talking about legalizing heroin use,” he said. “I think it’s predicable.”

Beyond the more personal aspects of the sites, McKenna also approaches it from a legal standpoint.

“It’s not going to be a desirable land use … people are going to see a lot of difficult side effects in the surrounding areas,” he said. “So a lot of cities rushing to say they don’t want one in their community … because you don’t want the criminal activity and drug use from people on heroin around that area.”

“I also worry about the liability for tax payers with local governments setting these things up,” McKenna said. “When, inevitably, someone dies at a safe injection site from an overdose, there is going to be a lawsuit. I worry about that.”

KIRO Nights on KIRO Radio 97.3 FM
  • listen to kiro nightsTune in to KIRO Radio weekdays at 7 pm for KIRO Nights with Jack Stine.

KIRO Nights

KIRO Nights

Seattle Public Schools...
KIRO Nights

Despite early pushback, Seattle Public Schools reaches ‘fantastic’ vaccine mandate compliance

Of Seattle Public Schools' 7,283 full time employees, 99% have received COVID immunizations, and 205 have sought religious or medical exemptions.
2 days ago
Seattle city attorney...
KIRO Nights

Seattle city attorney candidate defends past inflammatory tweets as ‘satire and sarcasm’

Seattle city attorney candidate Nicole Thomas-Kennedy defends incendiary posts on social media, claims 'Twitter is an inherently satirical and sarcastic.'
21 days ago
vaccination plan, Biden...
Jack Stine

Jack Stine’s six step COVID vaccination plan

KIRO Nights host Jack Stine came up with his own six step plan to get more Americans vaccinated against COVID, focused on a change in messaging.
1 month ago
Vaccine consent, vaccinated protest, lawsuit vaccine mandate...
Jack Stine

Stine: Refusal to get vaccinated is about consent for some

Not wanting to get vaccinated has nothing to do with grand or romantic illusions of a conspiracy, but rather a very basic concept: consent.
2 months ago
Jack Stine

Stine: If I win the COVID vaccine lottery … or any lottery

Lotteries present a tremendous amount of potential for someone to lose themselves from suddenly being endowed with hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars.
4 months ago
cancel rent...
KIRO Nights

Push to ‘cancel the rent,’ extend moratoriums driven by risk of more homelessness

With eviction moratoriums set to expire at the end of June, some local groups are pushing for the state to cancel rent and help people avoid homelessness.
5 months ago

Sponsored Articles


Medicare open enrollment for 2022 starts Oct. 15 and SHIBA can help!

Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner SPONSORED — Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period, also called the Annual Election Period, is Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. During this time, people enrolled in Medicare can: Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan and vice versa. Join, drop or switch a Part D prescription drug plan, […]

How to Have a Stress-Free Real Estate Experience

The real estate industry has adapted and sellers are taking full advantage of new real estate models. One of which is Every Door Real Estate.
IQ Air

How Poor Air Quality Is Affecting Our Future Athletes

You cannot control your child’s breathing environment 100% of the time, but you can make a huge impact.
Swedish Health Services

Special Coverage: National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

There are a wide variety of treatment options available for men with prostate cancer. The most technologically advanced treatment option in the Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform.
Marysville Police Department

Police Opportunities in a Growing, Supportive Washington Community

Marysville PD is looking for both lateral and entry level officers. Begin or continue your career in law enforcement for a growing, supportive community.

Small, Minority-Owned Businesses in King County and Pierce County Can Now Apply For $10,000 Relief Grants Through Comcast RISE

Businesses in King County and Pierce County can apply beginning on October 1, 2021, at for a chance to receive a $10,000 relief grant.
AG Rob McKenna argues against safe injection sites