Voters cannot ban injection sites by ballot initiative, judge rules

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SEATTLE - Voters do not have the authority through ballot initiatives to decide if supervised injection sites should be banned, according to a King County Judge's ruling on Monday. 

Over the summer, a group gathered nearly 70,000 signatures for a February ballot initiative that would allow the public to vote on banning injection sites. 

Seattle leaders, who support safe injection sites, joined a lawsuit to get I-27 off the ballot and stop the public vote.  

On Monday, King County Judge Alecia Galvan declared that I-27 is invalid because it "extends beyond the scope of the local initiative power." Galvan instructed that it not be included in winter ballot. 

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Seattle and King County leaders joined a lawsuit to get the initiative removed with a new nonprofit called Protect Public Health.

Their argument is that safe injection sites are part of health policy and that it's clear under state law that those decisions are up to local authorities, not the public. 

RELATED: Seattle wants to join lawsuit to defend safe injection sites

Court documents say "voters are in no position to weigh the scientific evidence or understand the impact of vetoing part of a multi-prong response to a local public health crisis."

Instead, of I-27, the county wanted their own initiative that details a three-year pilot program that includes injection sites.

Both sides made their legal fight in court Friday before the Monday ruling. 

RELATED: King County prosecutor endorses safe injection sites for drug users

KIRO7 talked with Joshua Freed, the chairperson behind the initiative. He said if the judge knocks down I-27 supporters will appeal and take further legal action. 

Safe injection sites are a hot topic among voters.

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