Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler
Federal funds would be prohibited for any state, local, tribal, or private entity that operates an unlawful injection center under legislation sponsored on March 9 by U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA).
The Stop Injection Sites for Illegal Drugs Act, H.R. 7029, would withhold federal funds if such entities implement and operate drug injection sites, which are public facilities where people could consume illicit drugs under medical supervision without legal consequence, according to information provided by the congresswoman’s office.
Under the bill, federal funds would not be withheld from COPS (Community Oriented Policing Services) or Byrne Jag grants that fund police and community safety services, the information says.
“However well-intended, using taxpayer money to enable individuals to use heroin, fentanyl and opioids in spaces throughout our communities will only worsen crime and dangerous debris while providing negligible benefit to those who are struggling with addiction,” Rep. Herrera Beutler said. “There’s no question that the drug epidemic that claimed a record 100,000 lives last year demands a more comprehensive response from policymakers, but putting injection rooms in our communities is no solution at all.”
Introduction of H.R. 7029 follows comments made to the Associated Press in February by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), which reportedly said it is evaluating such facilities and talking to regulators about appropriate guardrails.
Such action, however, would contradict a Jan. 12 ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit that determined it is a federal crime to open a supervised injection site or “consumption room” for illegal drug use. The court agreed with the government’s interpretation of the Controlled Substances Act that although “the opioid crisis may call for innovative solutions, local innovations may not break federal law.”
“My goal as a co-founder of the Bipartisan Addiction and Mental Health Task Force is to advance solutions that lead to effective prevention and treatment that’s accessible to everyone, but that also takes into account the concern among law-abiding residents about the spikes in crime and dangerous debris that are making our communities less safe and livable,” said Rep. Herrera Beutler.
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