Pennsylvania moves one step closer to safe injection site: 4 things to know

Former Democratic Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell launched a nonprofit called Safehouse, which will operate a safe injection site in Philadelphia despite government pushback, according to NPR.

Here are four things to know:

1. Safehouse will provide a supervised space for people to use illicit drugs. People wishing to enter the building will first receive a physical and mental health assessment. They will also be given strips to test their drugs for fentanyl. In addition, Safehouse will offer social services and referrals to primary care physicians to those wishing to seek permanent care.

"The idea is if today we can prevent that fatal overdose and we can build that relationship of trust, then maybe tomorrow, or even later today, we can encourage that person to get into treatment," Ronda Goldfein, executive director of the AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania and a Safehouse board member, told NPR.

2. Rod Rosenstein, U.S. deputy attorney general, told NPR Aug. 30, the Justice Department will not allow supervised injection sites to be opened in Philadelphia or other U.S. cities, as it violates a federal statute against maintaining a location for the use of controlled substances. People who use illicit drugs at Safehouse could still face prosecution under federal law.

"I have a message for Mr. Rosenstein: I'm the incorporator of the safe injection site nonprofit, and they can come and arrest me first," Mr. Rendell told NPR.

3. While 100 safe injection sites exist worldwide, Philadelphia would be the first to open one in the U.S., according to Ms. Goldfein.

4. Safehouse has raised $200,000 despite disapproval from elected officials. Mr. Rendell told NPR, sometimes you have to ignore bad laws to pursue good policy.

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