Denver Drug Injection Site Proposal Is Illegal, Says Justice Department

The Department of Justice says that recent action by the city council in Denver authorizing the use of supervised drug use sites for addicts to safely inject heroin and other drugs is illegal under federal law, and will create a haven for drug addicts and other illicit activity. Last month, the Denver City Council voted 12-1 approving bill 18-1292, moving the legislation to the Colorado state legislature for consideration.

Foremost, the operation of such sites is illegal under federal law,” the Justice Department said in a statement. “Potential penalties include forfeiture of the property, criminal fines, civil monetary penalties up to $250,000, and imprisonment up to 20 years in jail for anyone that knowingly opens, leases, rents, maintains, or anyone that manages or controls and knowingly and intentionally makes available such premises for use.”

The department doubts whether such sites will reduce the number of addicts, and cited a recent review of a Canadian facility in Vancouver, which found that its designation as “safe” did little to stem the tide. In fact, the DOJ maintains that the government-sanctioned operation normalizes serious drug use.  

“The Denver facility likewise would welcome users of any drug, not just opioids,” the DOJ said. “Just like so-called crack houses, these facilities will attract drug dealers, sexual predators, and other criminals, ultimately destroying the surrounding community.”

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Multimedia journalist James Cullum has reported for over a decade to newspapers, magazines and websites in the D.C. metro area. He excels at finding order in chaotic environments, from slave liberations in South Sudan to the halls of the power in Washington, D.C.

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