IL: Illinois bill would create safe consumption sites for drug use

ABC News –

No state in the U.S. has legalized safe consumption sites yet.

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WICS/WRSP) — There’s a growing drug abuse problem across the country. Illinois lawmakers are working to tackle this problem in the state.

One bill proposed this session, House Bill 0110, would create monitored safe consumption sites for drug use.

Bill sponsor Rep. LaShawn Ford, D-Chicago, believes this is the next step in fighting the drug epidemic, saying this would cut down on drug overdoses.

“Studies prove that safe consumption sites reduce fatal overdoses,” Ford said. “It also reduces the nuisance in the streets with people using drugs on the streets and leaving needles.”

Ford explained that if signed into law, this bill would establish a pilot site, likely in Chicago, where people can also get resources and help.

“The Department of Public Health and the Department of Human Services will work together to put together a plan for a pilot, and that’s our goal,” Ford said.

Ford said there’s more fentanyl coming into the state, leading to an increase in overdoses.

“We need to make sure we have places where people can get the help that they need, so an increase in Heroin

" target="_blank" >heroin and fentanyl in communities requires us to do something different,” Ford said.

These safe consumption sites are federally illegal, though, so it would require a partnership with law enforcement.

“It’s what you call diversion, so if we could work with law enforcement and we know where people are getting the help that they need, I think it’s gonna help the streets become safer,” Ford said.

However, many law enforcement agencies oppose the bill.

“Law enforcement is clearly against this bill,” Sangamon County Sheriff Jack Campbell said. “In our belief, drugs are tied to almost any crime that really exists.”

Campbell also has concerns over where these sites would be located.

“We have an issue that there’s no identification yet where these places will be, so that is a fear for law enforcement,” Campbell said.

He believes the sites would encourage drug use and only make the problem worse.

“You’re telling people it’s OK to do this,” Campbell said. “We already want to get them help, but part of that means you gotta quit using it.”

Campbell believes more needs to be done to fight drug use, but doesn’t feel this is the answer.

“It’s gonna take more proactive policing and it’s gonna take more help from the legislature to get into these places that are dealing it and to arrest and detain the people that are responsible for it,” Campbell said.

These sites would be supervised by healthcare professionals.

No state in the U.S. has legalized safe consumption sites yet.

Use of illegal substances inside the injection spaces would not be subject to criminal charges.

This bill initially did not pass in the House. It was put on the order of postponed consideration, which means it can still pass this session.

Ford hopes lawmakers will take it up again for a vote this session.

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Tags: Addiction Services Harm Reduction New Drug Trend Opioid Epidemic Overdose Programs Safe Injection Sites" >Drug Abuse
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