Voters in King County could be asked to vote this year on whether public health officials should be able to open "safe injection sites" for drug users.
A proposed citizen initiative was filed with the King County Clerk on April 14. If approved for the ballot, it would bar funding and operation of supervised drug consumption sites in the county.
The petition follows a recommendation by a task force on opioid addiction to open two sites where addicts could inject narcotics under medical supervision -- a plan modeled after a similar program in Vancouver, British Columbia.
The King County Board of Health voted 12-0 in January to approve the recommendation. Supporters of the plan believe it would reduce the number of overdose deaths. However, critics worry it will enable use of drugs.
The draft ordinance to be put before county voters was filed by Joshua Freed, a Bothell city councilmember. The draft text calls safe-injection sites "inconsistent with the county’s goal of preventing substance use disorder and overdoses."
The filing with the county clerk begins the process that could place a measure on the November ballot. King County Deputy Clerk Melani Pedroza said the county and petitioner are working on code requirements, including a proposed title.
Once that’s complete, the clock would begin on the signature gathering process. Supporters would need to gather just over 55,000 signatures to put the measure on the ballot, or ten percent of the votes cast for the King County Executive in the last election, per county rules.
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