Monday, May 21, 2018

Safe injection sites in New York City? Learning from Canada...

The NY Times has two recent stories, one perhaps a reaction to the other.  First this:
De Blasio Moves to Bring Safe Injection Sites to New York City

"Mayor Bill de Blasio is championing a plan that would make New York City a pioneer in creating supervised injection sites for illegal drug users, part of a novel but contentious strategy to combat the epidemic of fatal overdoses caused by the use of heroin and other opioids.
"Safe injection sites have been considered successful in cities in Canadaand Europe, but do not yet exist in the United States. Leaders in San Francisco, Philadelphia and Seattle have declared their intention to create supervised sites, although none have yet done so because of daunting obstacles. Among them: The sites would seem to violate federal law.
"The endorsement of the strategy by New York, the largest city in the country, which last year saw 1,441 overdose deaths, may give the movement behind it impetus.
"For the sites to open, New York City must still clear some significant hurdles. At minimum, the plan calls for the support of several district attorneys, and, more critically, the State Department of Health, which answers to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo. The city sent a letter on Thursday to the state, asserting its intention to open four injection centers.

"The most serious obstacle to the safe injection sites may be the federal government. A section of federal law known as the crack house statute makes it illegal to own, rent or operate a location for the purpose of unlawfully using a controlled substance.
The enforcement of the statute in the case of safe injection sites, however, would be up to the discretion of federal authorities. While it is unclear how the Trump Justice Department will respond to the city’s proposal, the attorney general, Jeff Sessions, has taken a hard line on drug policy.
“We don’t believe a president who has routinely voiced concern about the national opioid epidemic will use finite federal law enforcement resources to prevent New York City from saving lives,” Eric F. Phillips, the mayor’s press secretary, said in a written statement.
Advocates for the sites point out that needle exchanges were considered illegal when they began, and they are now commonplace; in 2015, for example, when Mike Pence was governor of Indiana, he put aside his moral opposition to needle exchanges and allowed a program to stem the flood of H.I.V. cases."
And, today, this:
Opioid Crisis Compels New York to Look North for Answers
Supervised injection sites for heroin users have prevented overdose deaths in Canada. But is New York City ready for the scenes that come with them?

"As Mayor Bill de Blasio has come out in support of supervised injection centers in New York, his stance has been shaped by Canada’s lead.
The country has been a pioneer; its first supervised injection facility, where heroin can be used under supervision, opened in Vancouver in 2003. A decade of political and legal wrangling followed, culminating with the Canadian Supreme Court ruling in favor of the approach in 2011."

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