Injection sites still banned — County Council doesn’t budge

At a public hearing, more than 15 people said they are opposed to sanctioned areas for using heroin.

EVERETT — The Snohomish County Council on Monday upheld its interim ban on safe injection sites, which are sanctioned areas for using heroin.

The measure is likely to become permanent after additional meetings.

No council vote was required Monday. The public hearing followed the unanimous passing of a six-month emergency ban in September.

More than 15 people spoke in support of continuing the moratorium, including Snohomish Mayor-elect John Kartak and Darrington Town Councilman Kevin Ashe.

“Poison can never be safely injected into a human body,” said Bill Cooper, a retired police chief who lives near Snohomish.

If the sites were allowed, “we are encouraging a BYOB of sorts,” he said.

No one spoke in favor of allowing the sites. The public comment lasted about an hour and included personal stories about battling addiction, cleaning up needles and losing loved ones.

The county’s ban has inspired similar efforts in local cities. Lake Stevens and Darrington have passed year-long moratoriums. Ashe said he hopes to make Darrington’s permanent.

Marysville, Lynnwood and Sultan are considering legislation. Everett is waiting to see what happens elsewhere.

At a county news conference about opioids earlier in the day, Sheriff Ty Trenary said he is “absolutely opposed” to injection sites, which he believes would exacerbate existing problems. Trenary has been a strong advocate for increasing treatment access for addicts. Treatment and prevention also remain the primary focus of the Snohomish Health District, officials have said.

There have no been reports of anyone trying to locate a safe injection site in Snohomish County. However, it’s been a hot topic in King County, where health officials support the idea.

Snohomish County Councilman Nate Nehring proposed the ban here.

“This is the right time to be having this conversation,” he said.

Rikki King: 425-339-3449; rking@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @rikkiking.

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