A citizen initiative to ban safe injection sites for drug users in King County has qualified for the ballot.
“Voters deserve to have their say on government-sponsored heroin injection sites before Executive Constantine rushes to build them. We urge the King County Council to put I-27 on the November ballot at their meeting on Monday," Safe King County chairman Joshua Freed said in a released statement.
“In addition, we remain alarmed that nearly 5,000 voters were disenfranchised by the clerk’s unconstitutional action of rejecting 454 petitions, and thus denying these voters their voice. We urge the council to restore these voters’ rights and act decisively to ensure that future citizen initiatives are never again jeopardized by voter disenfranchisement.”
King County Council will next decide whether the initiative will go on the November ballot or if a special election will be held.
Initiative 27 had collected nearly 70,000 signatures necessary to put the measure on the ballot, according to the campaign. The initiative would bar funding and operation of supervised drug consumption sites in the county.
Earlier this year, a county task force on opioid addiction recommended opening 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 approved the recommendation by a vote of 12-0 in January; the plan is also supported by King County Executive Dow Constantine and Seattle Mayor Ed Murray.
Supporters of the so-called safe injection sites believe it would reduce the number of overdose deaths and connect users with needed health services. However, critics worry it will enable the use of drugs in a region facing an opioid epidemic.
“This is a monumental day for our campaign to stop government-sponsored heroin injection sites,” Safe King County chairman Joshua Freed said.
The King County safe injection sites would be the first to open in the United States. Their locations have not yet been determined, but one site would be located within the city of Seattle; the other outside of city limits.