A legal battle is underway attempting to legalize Safehouse facilities that safely dispense drugs legally to addicts in efforts to decriminalize drugs.
Eighty criminal justice leaders filed a brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to reconsider the ban on Safehouse Philly and other nonprofit safe drug use sites.
The Philadelphia facility won a case in February 2020 but lost on appeal in January 2021 under the federal “crack house” statute.
In July, Rhode Island was the first state to authorize a safehouse pilot program. Many states have taken note, including New York, Massachusetts, New Mexico, and California, where advocates have been trying to open safe sites.
The “crack house” law prohibits “maintaining drug-involved premises.” It was written 35 years ago by then-Sen. Joe Biden.
The court originally decided Safehouse’s work is legal, because of the nonprofit’s intent to save lives — not sell state-banned drugs.
The amicus brief was filed by current and former district attorneys, state attorneys general, and President Biden’s U.S. Massachusetts attorney nominee, Rachael Rollins.
The brief argues that the government shouldn’t criminalize an evidence-based, lifesaving intervention like safe sites.
“Given the stark evidence that criminalizing drug use only increases its harms, the prior administration’s attempt to extend the Controlled Substance Act to block a public health response to the overdose crisis is perplexing,” the brief stated.
In over 100 authorized sites in 11 countries, no safe sites have ever had someone die of an overdose on their watch, the Sept. 20 story said.
“We wouldn’t criminalize a parent who allows a child to use their house to safely consume drugs so they’re under a watchful eye,” Krinsky said. “We shouldn’t criminalize a nonprofit … that is trying to do what 11 countries in the world have done.”