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

Malena Gaces, left, and other members of Washington CAN protest unfair move-out charges and alleged discriminatory behavior outside Kitts Corner Apartments in Federal Way in 2018. Sound Publishing file photo
King County could increase tenant protections

The council is considering ordinances designed to help renters.

The 2015 Wolverine Fire in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest near Lake Chelan. Photo courtesy of the Washington Department of Natural Resources.
The smoky summer that wasn’t

While Washington had a mild season, wildfires burned near the Arctic.

A rundown of Renton’s ballot

Ballots mailed out this week to voters

Dane Scarimbolo and Dominique Torgerson run Four Horsemen Brewery in Kent. They were almost shut down in late 2017 by King County, which after years of letting them operate a brewery and taproom, decided they were in violation of county code. Aaron Kunkler/staff photo
Proposed winery ordinance irks King County farmers, neighbors and businesses

Concerns include more traffic, higher land prices, code enforcement and compliance.

A partnership to help students in need

Renton Innovation Zone Partnership begins its work in local schools

County begins to focus on Renton’s transit issues

Access to Transit study highlights needs for transportation, infrastructure

Photo courtesy of Shooting Star Preschool and Childcare. Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) with tots in the Renton Highlands after being presented with a song and big welcome card.
Murray hosts roundtables in Renton

The senator heard from local veterans and parents about needs

U.S. Sen. Patty Murray and Rep. Kim Schrier held a roundtable at the Issaquah Food and Clothing Bank on Oct. 3 to talk about the Trump administration’s plan to further change SNAP food benefits rules and reduce the number of people using them. Aaron Kunkler/staff photo
Murray, Schrier vow to fight White House restrictions on food stamps

Senator and Representative met Oct. 3 at Issaquah Food and Clothing Bank.

King County is considering ways to increase both the supply of and demand for compost to help divert organic material from the landfill. File photo
King County wants to boost composting market

In 2018, around one-third of material sent to regional landfill could have been composted.

Most Read