Will the Council Permanently Ban Safe Injection Sites in SnoCo?

Bonnie Johnson - Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Permanently Banning Safe Injection Sites in Snohomish County

Tomorrow at 10:30 am, the Snohomish County Council will hold a public hearing at 3000 Rockefeller Ave to possibly take permanent action on a very controversial subject. Among other ordinances, they’re seeking public feedback on Ordinance 18-014: “prohibiting the siting of supervised drug consumption facilities within unincorporated Snohomish County…”

In Sept of 2017, the Council approved a temporary ban, effectively preemptively shutting down the option for supervised injection sites, while King County began the process of sourcing a second site. Since that time, several cities surrounding the area have taken their own action to ban such sites, Lynnwood and Marysville being the most recent, primarily out of apprehension that their city may be the next selected locale.

Councilmember Nate Nehring, [District 1] Tweeted: “At today’s Public Hearing (Nov 20, 2017) the residents of Snohomish County unanimously testified in opposition to heroin injection sites. We will not follow Seattle’s footsteps in enable addiction through these destructive sites.” Nehring was the frontrunner who proposed the ban in the first place.

Safe injection sites are medically monitored facilities where IV drug users can use. These sites are very contentious; some perceive that their existence condones drug use, invites drug users to the neighborhood or that they fail to offer incentives or cultural pressure to stop using. Yet others credit these sites as life-saving for addicts, either by reducing overdoses, addiction itself or reducing diseases communicable through IV drug use.

Besides the perceived benefit for users, supporters of safe injection sites say that even if you don’t care about the well-being of the users, the sites themselves can cut back on what you do care about: nuisance crimes and the ugly ‘clean up’ required after IV users discard their needles in unsecured locales. (Man Jabbed With Dirty Needle in Arlington).

On March 21st, the next round of public hearings, focus will then be on embedded social workers in Arlington and Marysville, who work in tandem with law enforcement to reduce addiction and homelessness.