Judge rules Philadelphia safe injection site does not violate federal law

A judge ruled Tuesday that a nonprofit seeking to open a facility in Philadelphia for the injection of illegal drugs would not violate a federal drug law.

Under the plan proposed by Safehouse, people struggling with addiction could use drugs in a clinic-like setting and get medical help if they overdose.

City council member Mark Squilla tells FOX 29 he was told one of the injection sites would be at the Constitution Health Plaza on Broad Street in South Philadelphia.

U.S. Attorney William McSwain opposes the site, saying it will only make Philadelphia's opioid crisis worse. His office plans to appeal the ruling.

“We respectfully disagree with the District Court’s ruling and plan to appeal immediately,” said McSwain. “What Safehouse proposes is a radical experiment that would invite thousands of people onto its property for the purpose of injecting illegal drugs. In our view, this would plainly violate the law and we look forward to presenting our case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.”

Mayor Jim Kenney and other city officials announced last year they supported Safehouse's plan to open locations where people can shoot up under the supervision of a doctor or nurse who can administer an overdose antidote if necessary. 

"Overdose prevention sites⁠ offer compassion and treatment. They are proven to improve residents' quality of life and, most importantly, save lives," Mayor Kenney said Tuesday. "Pleased with the Court’s decision. Philadelphia continues to lead the nation on this important issue."

The head of the Pennsylvania Harm Reduction Coalition, an advocacy group supporting injection sites as a means to getting addicts the eventual help they need, agrees.

"I would like to see many supervised consumption facilities opening across the state and across the city because too many people are dying and you can't get into recovery if you're dead,' Devin Reaves said.

The organizers of Safehouse are expected to hold a press conference Wednesday morning.


US attorney in Philadelphia asks judge to block safe injection site

US judge: Injection sites don't violate federal drug laws


For the latest local news, sports and weather, download the FOX 29 News app.