Philadelphia's supervised injection battle headed to US Supreme Court

Earlier this year, an appeals court ruled it is a crime to open a property with the purpose of using drugs.
PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Safehouse says it is taking its plan to open a controversial supervised injection site in South Philadelphia straight to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Under the Safehouse plan, people could bring drugs to the clinic-like setting, use them in a partitioned bay and get medical help if they overdose. They would also have access to counseling, treatment and other health services.

But earlier this year, an appeals court ruled it is a crime to open a property with the purpose of using drugs.

The idea of creating a supervised injection site in the city has spawned much controversy over the years. In 2020, Safehouse was set to open a site at Constitution Health Plaza at Broad and McKean streets, but the plan was quickly nixed.

SEE ALSO: Constitution Health Plaza cancels plans for safe injection site in South Philadelphia
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In an abrupt turn of events, the plan for the country's first supervised injection site to open in South Philadelphia stopped in its tracks.

Ronda Goldfein, the vice president of Safehouse, has said the need for a supervised injection site has only increased during the pandemic.

"We know that vulnerable people are living on the edge. It doesn't take much of a disruption, let alone a pandemic, to really push them over," said Goldfein, who said Safehouse would continue to press its legal fight.

Attorneys for the organization say they filed a petition with the US Supreme Court this week, asking the justices to determine if the safe injections site is legal.

If allowed, it would be the nation's first supervised injection site.

Supporters of the plan include Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney and former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, both Democrats.

In 2018, Action News traveled to Canada where safe injection sites are already up and running. Our visit came with mixed reaction.

"We offer all the supplies that they'd need: tourniquet, sterile water, cookers, and then they can select the needle that most meets their needs," said Shaun Hopkins, who runs a site in the heart of Toronto's tourism district.

When asked about public support for the facility, and whether it has increased or decreased, Hopkins said, "I think public support for this facility is difficult."

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