King County initiative to ban safe injection sites qualifies for ballot

King County voters will get a chance – possibly on the November general election ballot – to ban government-sponsored heroin injection sites, also known as safe injection sites.

The Bothell-based Safe King County group collected enough signatures to put Initiative 27 in front of voters, according to King County Elections. If approved, the measure would ban government-sponsored heroin injection sites.

“We are gratified to have finally cleared this hurdle and for I-27 to have officially qualified for the ballot,” said Safe King County chairman Joshua Freed in a media release Thursday. “Voters deserve to have their say on government-sponsored heroin injection sites before Executive (Dow) Constantine rushes to build them. We urge the King County Council to put I-27 on the November ballot at their meeting on Monday (Aug. 21).”

The group needed to collect 47,443 valid signatures from registered voters. The county council could decide to put the measure on the Nov. 7 ballot or February’s ballot.

The Kent City Council voted 6-1 on Tuesday to ban the safe injection sites in Kent. The city councils of Federal Way, Auburn, Renton and Bellevue also voted to ban the sites.

The county council voted 5-4 in June to limit the use of county funds for establishing heroin injection sites only in cities whose elected leaders choose to allow the facilities.

A county task force, appointed by Constantine and Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, recommended earlier this year the creation of two safe-injection sites – one in Seattle and one at another county location. No sites have been picked. A total of 132 people died of heroin overdoses in the county in 2015, according to the task force’s website.

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