Safe consumption: The debate

In the first of a three-part series, we enter into the heated, emotional, and sometimes bitter debate around one of the most controversial policy proposals in the country.

In January 2017, Seattle and King County made national headlines: They announced their intentions to build the first two supervised consumption sites in the U.S. as a way to help combat the opioid crisis. The sites, also known as Community Health Engagement Locations (CHELs), safe consumption sites, or heroin injection sites, depending on whom you ask, are places where people can inject or consume illicit drugs legally and under medical supervision. They’re designed to prevent the spread of diseases like HIV and Hepatitis C, as well as overdose deaths, and can serve as a way to connect people to treatment and other health and social services. But lots of people and public officials both in and outside of Seattle are vehemently opposed to the idea, and more than a dozen cities in the region have permanently banned them. This is Part One of a three-part series on the heated, emotional, and sometimes bitter debate in the Seattle area around one of the most controversial policy proposals in the country.

Featuring interviews with Turina James, Joshua Freed, Jared Nieuwenhuis, and King County Executive Dow Constantine.

Music by Kevin MacLeod, Kai Engel, Nctrnm, The Insider, and Leeni Ramadan

This week’s cover photo is an image of the injection room at Insite, the supervised consumption facility in Vancouver, B.C., and was taken by Nicole Jennings.

More in Northwest

A man addresses the King County Council during a public hearing March 20 at New Life Church in Renton. He presented bags filled with what he said was hazardous materials dropped on his property by bald eagles. Another speaker made similar claims. Haley Ausbun/staff photo
Locals show support for King County waste to energy plant

Public hearing on landfill’s future was held March 20 in Renton.

After being homeless, Christy X (pictured) moved into her Coniston Arms Apartments unit in Seattle at the beginning of 2019. She had bounced around from shelters to friends’ places after facing an eviction at her West Seattle apartment in October 2018. A diversion program run by the nonprofit Mary’s Place helped her find housing. File photo
State lawmakers consider eviction reform legislation

Sen. Patty Kuderer, D-Bellevue, is bill’s prime sponsor.

Gov. Jay Inlsee signs into law the Native American Voting Rights Act, which allows a non-traditional address to be used for voter registration for residents who live on reservations. Photo by Emma Epperly/WNPA Olympia News Bureau
Native American Voting Rights Act signed into law

Non-traditional addresses can be used for voter registration on tribal lands

Courtesy photo
State lawmakers seek permanent daylight saving time in Washington

Senate and House are working toward compromise on two bills; voters could decide in November election

Protest in Caracas, Venezuela, on Jan. 23, 2019. wikimedia/Voice of America
Local activists push back against intervention in Venezuelan crisis

Anti-war group Answer Coalition plans protest March 16 at Seattle Central College

One of Seattle Weekly’s “Best of Seattle” issues from Aug. 2016.
Seattle Weekly’s last print edition is Feb. 27

Message to readers from Josh O’Connor, president of Sound Publishing

Photo courtesy of U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency
Legislature ‘prays’ for Congress to curb president’s ability to launch nukes

Washington has more nuclear weapons than any other state

Auburn Riverside defenders bring down Kennedy Catholic’s Junior Alexander during North Puget Sound League Mountain Division action in Oct. 2018 at Auburn Memorial Stadium. Photo by Rachel Ciampi/Auburn Reporter
Lawmakers push concussion awareness and best practices in sports

SB 5238 requires University of Washington and Harborview Medical Center to compile research data

Praerit Garg joins Smartsheet as CTO

Bellevue-based company employs 760 people

Law would prohibit eye tattoos in Washington state

Canada has already banned this procedure

Despite Supreme Court Ruling, activists fight youth incarceration in King County

No New Youth Jail Coalition members send Valentines to King County officials asking them to reconsider funding priorities

Bill targets sexual health curriculum in Washington schools

Senate Bill 5395 is co-sponsored by 17 Democratic representatives and introduced by Sen. Claire Wilson, D-Federal Way.