State Sen. Mark Miloscia, a Republican from Federal Way, has introduced a bill to ban safe-injection sites for heroin users in Washington state. The move comes after a task force last year recommended two sites to address King County’s opioid crisis.
OLYMPIA — A Republican state senator has introduced a bill that would ban safe-injection sites for heroin users in Washington state.
The bill by Sen. Mark Miloscia, R-Federal Way, comes after a task force last year recommended two King County pilot sites for users to inject heroin under medical supervision.
Supporters say the pilot sites could reduce overdose deaths, cut down on needles littering sidewalks and bring down the cost of emergency medical services used by addicts. Such sites would offer an alternative to alleys, public restrooms and homeless encampments like The Jungle along Interstate 5 in Seattle.
But Miloscia in a news release said Washington state shouldn’t be facilitating drug use.
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“We must stop the push for decriminalization of drugs,” Miloscia said in prepared remarks. “Standing idly by while addicts abuse illegal drugs is not compassionate, and it does not solve the problem.”
Miloscia’s bill, SB 5223, would effectively ban safe-injection sites by removing local authority to establish them.
Elected officials should be focusing instead on treatment options that get people off drugs, said Miloscia, a member of the Senate Health Care Committee.
Between 2013 and 2015, heroin was involved in at least 387 King County deaths.
Absent a ban, the city of Seattle will continue with its plans for safe-use sites, an authority city officials believe is granted to them by the state’s Public Health and Safety statute, said Rep. Eileen Cody, D-Seattle, House Health and Wellness Committee chair, who supports such sites.
Sen. Annette Cleveland, D-Vancouver, the ranking minority member of the Senate Health Care Committee, has urged caution against addressing opioid use in any “one-off way” such as Miloscia’s bill.