A few countries in Europe in the 1980s tried something new to reduce the harms associated with the use of illicit drugs: A supervised, hygienic facility where people could consume pre-obtained drugs, be monitored for overdoses, have access to counseling, and get referrals to health care and social services, including drug treatment.
Today, about 120 legally sanctioned supervised consumption sites operate in 11 countries globally, including Canada, Germany and Switzerland. Now there’s a proposal for the first supervised consumption site to open in the United States, but the federal government filed a lawsuit to block it from opening in Philadelphia. They argue it violates a section of the Controlled Substances Act that was aimed at making it easier for police to arrest individuals who opened and used buildings to produce, sell, or use crack cocaine.
Medical experts disagree.
In an amicus brief, the Litigation Center of the American Medical Association and State Medical Societies joined the Pennsylvania Medical Society, Philadelphia County Medical Society and about a dozen other organizations to provide information to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit that years of evidence show that these facilities provide evidenced-based medical and health interventions that help save lives, offer access to necessary services, and provide support to people who use drugs.
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