Statement on Third Circuit Ruling Against Safehouse

Press Release January 12, 2021
Media Contact

Matt Sutton 212-613-8026
[email protected]

New York, NY — In response to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit releasing their opinion in the United States v. Safehouse case, reversing the lower court’s (U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania) decision that safe consumption sites do not violate federal law, Lindsay LaSalle, Managing Director of Policy for the Drug Policy Alliance, released the following statement:

“As the COVID-19 pandemic is exacerbating the already devastating overdose crisis, the Third Circuit’s reversal of the earlier court’s decision—which held that safe consumption sites do not violate federal law—will inevitably result in the unnecessary loss of countless lives.

The Third Circuit’s decision is misguided–it is abundantly clear that Congress never intended to criminalize legitimate public health interventions through Section 856 of the Controlled Substances Act. The Drug Policy Alliance has been advocating for Congress to affirm this position and will now also be looking to the new Biden administration to issue guidance to the Department of Justice to refrain from prosecuting proposed supervised consumption sites like Safehouse that offer a critical intervention point of care. 

In the meantime, other jurisdictions are not bound by the Third Circuit decision. Advocates across the country–from San Francisco to New York City–should continue to work toward authorization and implementation of supervised consumption sites to address the overdose crisis in their cities and states.” 

A young woman holds a sign that says "End the Drug War."

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