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A Philadelphia’s Harm Reduction Site’s Long Journey Continues

A harm reduction site, a place where people are able to inject clean needles of their drug of choice in a safe environment without risk of incrimination and overdose, has had a very difficult road to opening in Philadelphia.

After years of protests and friction from neighborhoods across the city, the Philadelphia nonprofit Safehouse was ready to open the first harm reduction site in the US before the Department of Justice blocked the move during the Trump presidency. There was hope that things would change once Biden was in office, but there’s been zero movement despite Biden’s belief that harm reduction is a better alternative to incarceration.

So Safehouse reacted by filing a lawsuit, arguing that they’re protected under the First Amendment and religious exemptions. Last month, the Department of Justice responded to the lawsuit, asking for the whole thing to be dismissed because that the religious exemption argument is bunk.

But Safehouse has responded, saying their board members are guided by their religious beliefs. “Safehouse’s board members grieve for every life lost to overdose. They believe, based on their deeply held religious convictions, that they have a duty to do everything possible to keep those individuals alive, even for one more day.”

They are asking for the court to deny DOJ’s motion to dismiss.

It’s unclear whether or not the lawsuit will indeed be dismissed, but the religious exemption argument does seem like a stretch in this situation. It seems their only hope is to create enough noise for the whole situation to come to Biden’s attention, where he can step in and come to their aide. However, Biden has been very careful not to get in the way of his DOJ, and this would certainly cross that boundary.

Safehouse’s arduous journey continues, and my guess is that this lawsuit won’t be going very far.

Read the original article at Marijuana Moment.

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