Supporters sue to open safe injection site in Philadelphia, citing religious freedom

“If you find a place that accepts the fact that you’re going to be consuming drugs and still offers you services in a non-judgmental way, you’re going to start to trust them,” says Ronda Goldfein, the vice president and co-founder of Safehouse. “And once there’s a trust relationship, you’re more inclined to accept the range of treatment they’re offering, which includes recovery.”

McSwain (Pennsylvania’s Attorney General) and the Trump administration sued Safehouse in February. The prosecutors cited so-called “crack house” laws that make it a crime to own a property where drugs are being used. Safehouse, in response, assembled a team of a dozen pro bono lawyers and earlier this month counter-sued the government in federal court in Philadelphia, setting up a dispute that legal experts say has the potential to test the limits of the law. The Safehouse legal team maintains that drug laws from the 1980s were never meant to apply to a medical facility in the midst of a modern public health crisis. “Safehouse is nothing like a ‘crack house’ or drug-fueled ‘rave.’ Nor is Safehouse established ‘for the purpose’ of unlawful drug use,” Safehouse lawyer Ilana Eisenstein asserted in the filing, writing that the federal law cited by prosecutors, the Controlled Substances Act “does not regulate medical treatment or the practice of medicine.” The nonprofit’s lawyers also argue in court documents that shutting down its proposed injection sites would violate the group’s Judeo-Christian convictions about “preserving life,” thus violating the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a 1993 federal law that protects people from being prevented from exercising their faith.

Original Article (NPR):
Supporters Sue To Open Safe Injection Site In Philadelphia, Citing Religious Freedom
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