State Sen. Mark Miloscia is doubling down on his opposition to Seattle and King County’s planned safe-consumption sites for drug users. The Federal Way Republican has sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Session asking the feds to block the project.
OLYMPIA — State Sen. Mark Miloscia is doubling down on his opposition to Seattle and King County’s planned safe-consumption sites for drug users.
The Federal Way Republican this week penned a letter calling on the U.S. Department of Justice to intervene and stop the sites, a pilot project that would be the first of their kind in the country.
And on Friday, Miloscia’s bill intended to prevent drug consumption sites passed a legislative committee vote.
Supporters say the sites could reduce both overdose deaths and the cost of emergency medical services used by substance abusers.
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The sites — one planned in Seattle and another outside the city — would be an alternative to alleys, public restrooms and homeless encampments. Locations and funding have not been announced.
They would be stocked with naloxone, the overdose-reversing drug, and could connect people struggling with addiction to treatment services.
But Miloscia argues the sites would only encourage more drug use.
In his letter to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Miloscia called the sites “part of a broader effort to decriminalize and normalize illegal drug use” and called on the federal government to intervene.
“This is a time to focus on developing ways to help connect people with treatment, and educating our communities about the dangers of illicit drug use,” Miloscia wrote.
“Instead of helping, King County is promoting a culture of toleration, diverting precious resources away from treatment, and using an ideological platform to build a permissive society,” he added.
In a statement, Jeff Duchin, health officer for Public Health — Seattle and King County, said the opioid crisis is too severe to avoid options like safe-consumption sites.
“We have an obligation to address this public health crisis with a comprehensive and complete strategy to save as many lives as possible,” Duchin said. He added later, “Given the extent of this crisis, we need to use all available tools at our disposal from prevention to treatment to harm reduction.”
Duchin said safe-consumption sites are used in other countries and have been known to cut down on overdose deaths.
Miloscia’s legislative proposal, SB 5223, would effectively stop the safe-consumption sites by removing local authority to create them.
It passed Friday in the Senate State Government Committee, which he chairs. The next step would be a vote of the full Senate.
Sen. Patty Kuderer, D-Bellevue, who voted Friday against the bill, said local health departments and governments know their communities better than the state.
“I think the benefits far outweigh any perceived problem,” she said. “I think we need to give it a try and see for ourselves.”