HealthDay News — There are indications the U.S. Justice Department may be open to the idea of allowing safe injection sites, a year after it won a court battle against them. The department told the Associated Press that it is “evaluating” safe injection sites and speaking with regulators about “appropriate guardrails.”
The aim: to help stem overdose deaths among drug users. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 100,000 Americans died from drug overdose during the year ending in April 2021. Safe injection sites give users a monitored space for injected drug use, with overdose antidotes on hand if any such emergency arises.
Proponents of safe injection sites say they help reduce overdose deaths, while critics argue they encourage illegal drug use and harm neighborhoods. There are already safe injection sites in Canada, Australia, and Europe, and they have been discussed in some U.S. cities and states for years. A few unofficial sites have operated for some time, and two opened in New York City in November.
Last year, the Justice Department won a lawsuit to prevent a safe consumption site from opening in Philadelphia. But officials now say they are taking a fresh look at such sites. “Although we cannot comment on pending litigation, the Department is evaluating supervised consumption sites, including discussions with state and local regulators about appropriate guardrails for such sites, as part of an overall approach to harm reduction and public safety,” the agency said in a statement to the AP.