Pierce County considers ban on safe injection sites

VIDEO: Pierce County takes first step in banning safe injection sites

TACOMA, Wash. — The Pierce County Council discussed whether to preemptively ban safe injection sites for drug users.

The County Council declared the county to be in a state of opioid crisis last year, and now it’s considering a resolution to keep safe injection sites out of unincorporated Pierce County, even though no supervised injection sites were under consideration there.

Council member Pam Roach, who sponsored the bill, said she doesn’t want to enable drug addicts and would rather put money into more treatment programs.

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But a number of community members who attended the hearing said banning safe injection sites would be bad for public safety.

Ultimately, the rules committee recommended by vote of 2 to 1 to forward the proposal to the full Pierce County Council for a vote.

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If the bill passes, Pierce County would join a number of local jurisdictions that have already voted to ban such sites including Snohomish County, Federal Way, and Bellevue.

According to KIRO 7’s partner the News Tribune, there were 694 opioid-related deaths in Washington State in 2016.  Of those deaths, 81 were in Pierce County.

The Pierce County discussion comes as President Trump is unveiling his pans to tackle the nationwide opioid epidemic on Monday.

The administration said the goals include the death penalty for drug dealers in fatal overdose cases, cutting opioid prescriptions by a third nationwide over three years, supporting law enforcement, launching an advertising campaign to promote prevention and education and helping people impacted by the epidemic find jobs while fighting addiction.

Congress recently appropriated $6 billion to help curb the drug epidemic.