Seattle and King County are moving ahead on a proposal to open two safe-consumption sites for drug users. But if state Sen. Mark Miloscia gets his way, they'll never open.
Seattle and King County are moving ahead on a proposal to open two safe-consumption sites for drug users. The sites, which would be the first of their kind in the U.S., were recommended by a panel of public-health experts to reduce deaths from overdoses of heroin and prescription opioids.
But if state Sen. Mark Miloscia gets his way, they’ll never open.
The Federal Way Republican has sponsored legislation that would pre-empt cities and counties from operating safe-injection or -consumption facilities by threatening to withhold millions in public-health funding. Miloscia’s bill, SB 5223, has passed the Republican-majority state Senate but is opposed in the Democratic-controlled state House.
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In this week’s episode of The Overcast, Miloscia sits down with political reporter Jim Brunner to explain his opposition to the drug-injection sites, and why he’s not buying the recommendations of many who work in the field of public health and heroin abuse. [The interview begins at the 4:00 mark.]
Miloscia sees the safe-injection sites as a step toward legalization of heroin. As an opponent of marijuana legalization, and an advocate of stricter alcohol restrictions, he’s consistently opposed expansion of legalized intoxicants. While many regard a “Just Say No” strategy of combating drug use as a failed relic, Miloscia contends society should shame addicts.
“We are losing control when we’re de-stigmatizing these dangerous drugs,” Miloscia says. “We need to teach our children and promote not taking these dangerous drugs and stigmatize people who get hooked on drugs to get into treatment. You are a bad person unless you get into treatment. You have to get into treatment.”
Miloscia does favor giving police and medics more access to the overdose-reversing drug naloxone. But he says government cannot condone heroin use.
There’s much more, as Miloscia is grilled on whether his bill violates the usual Republican arguments about local control — and whether any public-health experts have come down on his side in the safe-injection debate.
Also, this week’s winners and losers in Washington politics: Congressional town hall edition.
Send us your feedback and your nominations for next week’s winner and loser in local politics. Leave a comment on this post, tweet at us (@Jim_Brunner and @DBeekman), email us (firstname.lastname@example.org) or drop us a voicemail at 206-464-8778.