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Time to Start Talking About Legalizing Drugs

April 1, 2016
Author: 
Seattle Weekly Editorial

"Liz Evans, the co-founder of the InSite safe drug site in Vancouver, B.C., visited Seattle last week (via the Public Defender Association and VOCAL-WA) for a series of presentations on the efficacy of such sites. She explained to the City Council, the mayor’s public-safety advisor, and city and county law enforcement how studies have shown that InSite has saved lives and taxpayer money in its 12 years of existence.

She also noted that such sites—which include medical staff, counselors, sterile rigs, and sharps bins—make life easier for everyone, compared to the use of public bathrooms and alleys as Seattle’s de facto drug sites. “Certainly for the businesses and the community members that were most disrupted by the presence of people using drugs in the open, they were actually in the end [InSite’s] greatest supporters,” she says.

Official response to the idea of safe drug sites in Seattle is moving from lukewarm to enthusiastic. A majority of the City Council say they support safe drug sites, and Mayor Ed Murray has told Seattle Weekly that he’s open to them in principle. Last week, King County Sheriff John Urquhart promised that his deputies would not arrest people going to and from safe drug sites. Meanwhile, the mayor’s task force for the opioid epidemic is scheduled to take up the question of safe drug sites later this month. Audience questions at Evans’ presentations, for what it’s worth, were overwhelmingly concerned with when and how—not whether or why—Seattle should open safe drug sites."

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