Philadelphia is about to become the first city in the United States to establish places for people to use heroin and opioids under medical supervision. Questions remain about how federal law will control these “safe injection” sites. Legal analysts anticipate that a unique loophole in federal law will help to protect these areas. Part of the 1970 Controlled Substance Act offers immunity to state officials who commit drug crimes while in the process of enforcing local laws. While the law was designed to protect law enforcement officers who purchase drugs during sting operations, the new application of this law will take on a new life because the law will protect states that establish “safe injection” sites. This immunity law have never been applied in such a unique manner, and there are few past cases to determine if this argument would be successful.
Vermont is also considering creating these “safe injection” sites, but lawmakers have argued that staff at these centers can still be prosecuted. Other legal experts have argued that the best way to avoid federal intervention is for states to create a defense based on public health grounds. This article will review both sides in this argument to provide an in-depth understanding of a developing trend in how the federal government treats drug use.
Arguments Made by Supporters of Safe Injection Sites
People who support these sites argue that illicit drug use at safe injection sites does not present a danger to drug users or the surrounding community. As a result, safe injection sites help to limit the surrounding society’s exposure to dangerous drug use. Supporters of safe injection sites also often argue that these locations can help make sure that drug users have access to clean drug paraphernalia as well as safe methods to dispose of this equipment.
Arguments Made by Parties Against Safe Injection Sites
One of the main arguments made by parties against safe injection sites is that these locations would act as an incentive for drug users to continue engaging in dangerous activity. These parties also argue that creating these safe sites would cause subsequent problems including increased risks related to transportation.
The Severity of Federal Drug Laws
It is important to understand that federal drug charges almost always carry mandatory minimum prison sentences and fines. As a result, a person will be required by law to serve a minimum prison sentence if charged with federal drug crimes. Even if there are extenuating circumstances in your case, a judge will not able to reduce the severity of the resulting penalties. Safe injection sites would likely decrease the number of drug users who face these very serious charges.
Obtain the Services of a Criminal Defense Attorney
With the rising number of states that have legalized marijuana and the growing consideration of safe injection sites, the legality of drug use in the country is changing. If you face charges related to the issue of drugs, there might be defenses available of which you are not aware. By contacting a knowledgeable attorney at the Federal Criminal Law Center, you can make sure that you have the strongest defense possible. Speak to a lawyer at our office today for assistance.