One upstate New York city is planning an unconventional approach to combating a growing heroin epidemic: Letting addicts shoot up on government property under the supervision of medical professionals.
Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick unveiled his controversial proposal to open a supervised injection facility during an interview with The Associated Press released Monday. The facility would provide a space for users to inject pre-purchased drugs with clean needles under the watchful eye of healthcare professionals who could, in theory, keep them safe and direct them to addiction services.
"My father was a drug addict. He split from the family when I was 5, 6 years old," Myrick told the AP. "I have watched for 20 years this system that just doesn't work. We can't wait anymore for the federal government. We have people shooting up in alleys. In bathroom stalls. And too many of them are dying."
Supporters say the city is taking the necessary steps to treat drug addiction as a public health issue, but opponents say the plan is tantamount to encouraging drug use and the path to approval will be filled with legal challenges.