State senator asks U.S. AG to intervene in King County’s safe-injection site plan

Sen. Mark Miloscia, R-Federal Way. (Courtesy of the Washington Legislature.)

As King County officials work to open two safe-injection sites, state Sen. Mark Miloscia, R-Federal Way, is working at the state and federal level to block the sites.

Miloscia’s bill that would ban sites where heroin users can safely inject around medical professionals, has passed out of committee, according to a press release from his office. But he went further Friday and sent a letter to newly-appointed U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions asking for intervention.

Here’s an excerpt of that letter:

“I am writing to bring your attention to an urgent matter impacting the citizens of Washington State, and requesting your immediate intervention. I believe the actions of King County, Washington have the potential to set a dangerous precedent in the United States, in violation of federal law.

As you know, there is an opioid epidemic sweeping our nation. The explosion of deaths associated with prescription opioid misuse and heroin is unacceptable. This is a time to focus on developing ways to help connect people with treatment, and educating our communities about the dangers of illicit drug use. Instead of helping, King County is promoting a culture of toleration, diverting precious resources away from treatment, and using an ideological platform to build a permissive society.

This month, a task force endorsed by the King County Council, local health department, and King County Prosecuting Attorney, is moving forward to develop two so-called “safe consumption sites”. The sites are no-judgment zones, with no enforcement of current drug laws. Users of illegal drugs may enter the sites, get high, and in the case of an overdose, be treated with life-saving naloxone. I believe this is in direct conflict with federal law. Specifically, 21 U.S.C. 856 establishes maintaining drug-involved premises as an unlawful act, and provides criminal and civil penalties associated with violations.”

Miloscia goes on in the letter to request “immediate intervention.”

An estimated 132 people died due to a heroin overdose in King County in 2015, according to a study done by the Alcohol and Drug Institute at the University of Washington. Advocates for safe injection sites point to these sites as a way to keep folks with substance abuse problems alive long enough to seek treatment.

Erin Fenner: erin@washingtonstatewire.com, @erinfenner

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