Politico, August 28, 2018
Victoria Colliver, Dan Goldberg, and Rachel Roubein

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The Justice Department is threatening to shut down San Francisco's proposed test of supervised injection sites amid the opioid crisis even before the governor has a chance to sign the pilot program into law.

The looming showdown could affect similar efforts in New York, Philadelphia and Seattle, where officials have grappled with the ramifications of setting up spaces where drug users could shoot up while gaining access to clean syringes, medical professionals and treatment services as an approach to curb opioid addiction and overdose deaths.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said in an op-ed piece in The New York Times that “cities and counties should expect the Department of Justice to meet the opening of any injection site with swift and aggressive action" and warned that maintaining “any location for the purpose of facilitating illicit drug use” could lead to criminal prosecutions and up to 20 years in prison, hefty fines and property seizure.

But a bill California legislators sent to Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown this week could swing San Francisco's effort into action. The city on Tuesday opened a “mock” injection site at Glide Memorial Methodist Church, which also provides health services in one of its poorest neighborhoods. [...]

addiction criminal law health law policy public health regulation