U.S. courts could create a new landmark in terms of drug use control, according to the decision to be made by District Judge Gerald McHugh Jr. whether or not to authorize the operation in Philadelphia of a supervised injection site in the Kensington section.
This project being considered by the court is an idea from Safehouse, a Pennsylvania non-profit corporation whose mission is to save lives by providing services to prevent overdose.
Authorizing a supervised opiate injection site is not just a Philadelphia court dilemma, because similar cases are currently being considered in cities like Seattle, New York, San Francisco and Somerville, Massachusetts.
Supporters of controlled injection sites hope to create a center of experimentation closer to people, with a view to an environment of trust and unprejudiced help bring many opium addicts out of their addiction.
On the contrary, those who detract from the project believe that “injection sites” would only help to create an establishment for the use of this particular type of “hard drug”, the cause of an epidemic that annually kills thousands of Americans.
If the project is applied in Philadelphia, the non-profit Safehouse would help people fighting addiction. They could bring drugs to the clinic, use them in a partitioned bay and receive medical help in case of overdose.
Safehouse would provide drug users with clean needles and ties and let them use their own drugs in the presence of medical staff. Injection site supporters believe that it will also provide a trusted place for them to be offered treatment.
So far the plan has a high political support including Mayor Jim Kenney, District Attorney Larry Krasner and former Governor Ed Rendell, all Democrats.
José Benítez, who runs Safehouse in the City of Brotherhood Love, explains that the project involves the presence of trained medical staff. There would be medical personnel who would observe an overdose reaction if one occurred and then provide emergency care.
Safehouse ensures that the creation of these safe zones will create a real atmosphere for addicts to be interested in the benefits of drug reversion treatment.
A plan without support
According to the Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania William M. McSwain, the Safehouse project is nothing more than a pseudo-scientific scheme that would invite people to use drugs on property sanctioned by the government.
In deciding whether injection sites are a good idea, advocates should answer the following questions:
Where is the scientific evidence that injection sites lead people to treatment?
How will this not lead to the normalization of serious drug use?
Since users will be anonymous, how do you prevent minors from using drugs in injection sites? If suspected minors do not show proof of age when asked, will they still be allowed to shoot up?
That is the dilemma that District Judge Gerald McHugh Jr. must resolve with the proposed drug injection site.
Translated by: José Espinoza