Judge Approves Nation’s First Supervised Safe Injection Site in Philadelphia

Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

A federal judge ruled Tuesday that the nation’s first supervised safe injection site can open in South Philadelphia, and operators of the site say it will be ready to open as soon as next week.

Organizers with Safehouse, a nonprofit organization formed to open the injection site, is expected to announce more details about its plan on Wednesday, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

The opening of the site will end a two-year battle between the nonprofit and the government.

Safehouse had argued that the site would provide a safe space for people who are addicted to drugs to use them under medical supervision, have enough resources to revive them should they overdose, and provide resources for treatment.

But U.S. Attorney William McSwain, who is hoping to appeal the ruling, said it would violate the law and would lead to increased criminal activity in the area.

McSwain added that he would use “all enforcement tools” including drug seizures and arrests outside the site if Safehouse opens the site before he runs out of appeals.

“We believe that Safehouse’s proposed activity threatens to institutionalize the scourge of illegal drug use— and all the problems that come with it— in Philadelphia neighborhoods,” McSwain said in a statement.

“In light of these concerns, Safehouse should act prudently and not rush to open while the appeal is pending. But if it does rush forward, my office will evaluate all options available under the law,” the statement continued.

Safehouse has not announced a specific site in South Philadelphia where it will operate, but Councilman Mark Squilla says the proposed location is Constitution Health Plaza near Broad and McKean Streets, CBS Philadelphia reported.

Experts say an overdose prevention site in the city could save 24 to 76 lives every year.

But locals are opposed to the site, saying the proposed location is near a daycare.

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