Snohomish County permanently bans heroin-injection sites

Most of the public comments were from people fearing crime and drug abuse would increase.

EVERETT — The Snohomish County Council passed a land-use ordinance Wednesday that would permanently ban supervised heroin-injection sites.

The measure passed 4-0.

The restriction was proposed by Councilman Nate Nehring to prevent any government-monitored injection sites like one that operates in Vancouver, B.C., and dozens of other locations around the world, where government nurses stand watch as drug users shoot up. Officials in King County and Seattle are considering opening a couple of sites based on a similar model in the hopes of lowering overdose deaths and preventing the spread of diseases.

Council Chairwoman Stephanie Wright said there are no current proposals to establish any drug-consumption sites in Snohomish County. Wright described the council’s move Wednesday as proactive.

Councilman Brian Sullivan was out sick during Wednesday’s vote.

More than an hour of public comments was dominated by people who opposed supervised drug-use sites for fear that they could worsen crime and encourage more substance abuse. They also could create liability for the county, if someone were to die of an overdose, they argued. On the other side of the issue, one person said the sites should be considered as a possible way to get more drug users into treatment and to lower crime.

Snohomish County’s permanent ban follows a moratorium the council enacted in September.

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