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Safe injection site measure rests with high court

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KUOW Photo/Isolde Raftery

The state Supreme Court heard arguments Tuesday centered around safe injection sites for drug users. 

Opponents want the court to allow a ballot measure that would ban the controversial sites in King County.

Last fall a King County Superior Court Judge ruled Initiative-27 did not qualify for the ballot, because it attempts to determine public health policy.

Knoll Lowney agrees. He’s an attorney for a group backing the safe injection sites. 

In this week’s hearing he told the justices that the sites are part of the county’s comprehensive scheme to combat the opioid epidemic.

“That’s what you need when you’re dealing with public health emergencies. And that scheme does not allow people, citizens to halt an epidemic response plan by collecting signatures," Lowney said.  

But Phil Talmadge, an attorney for Safe King County, which put forth I-27, said the lower court erred in its decision.

Talmadge argued the issue before the court is simple: “You have to look at the fundamental overriding purpose of the initiative. And the fundamental or overriding purpose of this initiative is in the ballot question posed to the voters. Are these sites legal yes or no."

It’s unclear when the court may rule. 

The earliest it could reach the ballot is February.

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