A year after winning a court battle against the opening of safe injection sites, havens for people to use heroin and other narcotics with protections against fatal overdoses, the Justice Department is signaling it might be open to allowing them, the Associated Press reports. DOJ said it is “evaluating” such facilities and talking to regulators about “appropriate guardrails.” The position is a drastic change from its stance in the Trump administration, when prosecutors fought vigorously against a plan to open a safe consumption site in Philadelphia. About six weeks later, the first officially authorized safe injection sites opened in New York City in November. The two facilities — which the city calls “overdose prevention centers” — provide a monitored place for drug users to partake, with staffers and supplies on hand to reverse overdoses.
Such sites exist in Canada, Australia and Europe and have been discussed for years in New York and some other U.S. cities and states. A few unofficial facilities have operated for some time. For months after President Biden took office last year, the Justice Department — under Attorney General Merrick Garland — had refused to take a public stance on safe consumption sites. The New York City sites so far have intervened in more than 125 overdoses among more than 640 users, many of whom have made multiple visits, says OnPoint NYC, the organization running them.