BOTHELL, Wash. – It’s a solution to our area’s drug problem some say could create more harm than good. King County health experts say the county should give drug addicts a safe place to use. A plan to open up these sites in King County is moving forward, but Tuesday night a group is trying to stop that from happening.
Proposed Initiative 27 is a last-ditch effort to stop these sites from opening. The sponsors and volunteers have gathered 69,850 signatures and they want voters to have the final say in November.
With 680 opioid-related deaths in King County alone in 2015, nearly everyone can agree something needs to be done.
In January, the King County-Seattle Board of Health voted unanimously to approve a pilot program for two drug consumption sites.
“To allow people who are currently using drugs in public spaces to use them in doors under the supervision of a health care provider,” Duchin said.
Since May, Bothell politician and Joshua Freed has been working on Initiative 27 to stop those efforts countywide.
“Otherwise they’re on a path toward death. Whether it’s an overdose that happens almost immediately after they take their first dose or a death that happens over 20 years. By having a heroin injection site, I think you’re enabling people to continue on that path,” said Freed.
Freed said they rallied more than a thousand volunteers to canvass neighborhoods to pick up 69,850 signatures of registered voters against consumption sites. That’s more than 20,000 than the required amount.
“We don’t hate users. We want to make sure they get help. We just don’t want to see these facilities in our communities,” said Freed.
Duchin says the consumption sites would reduce harm.
“Having sites where people can safely inject and have their overdose reversed and their death prevented would be very beneficial,” said Duchin.
Freed says he wants the focus on rehab, not a place for addicts to use.
“I want to see that people have on demand treatment. If someone makes the decision today or if family member is able to sit down and say today is the day you need to go get help. That is the day we need to go and have help available to them,” said Freed.
King County Elections will review if the signatures for Initiative 27 are valid. That decision could come as early as this week. If there are enough legitimate, approved signatures, then the initiative will head to the King County Council. The council can either enact it into law or let it go to the next election, either in November or February, for voters to decide.