A New York mayor reportedly wants to create a “safe area” for addicts to inject heroin. The mayor of Ithaca, New York wants his town to host the first state-sanctioned injection zone in the country.
The plan comes as Canada, Europe and Australia are beginning to create supervised injection areas to combat deaths from drug overdose.
Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick says that the U.S. should reform its current system and follow suit.
“My father was a drug addict. He split from the family when I was 5, 6 years old. I have watched for 20 years this system that just doesn’t work. We can’t wait any more for the federal government. We have people shooting up in alleys. In bathroom stalls. And too many of them are dying,” Myrick told AP.
Overdoses from heroin are a growing problem in New York. Deaths from opiates skyrocketed from 186 in 2003 to 914 in 2012.
The mayor will reportedly ask the New York Health Department to declare a state health crisis so that Ithaca can legally establish the heroin safe-zone.
Legal experts have noted that the city faces an uphill battle if it wishes to supervise drug use, reports Fox News.
“The city would have to be sure it’s dotted all the legal i’s and crossed all the legal t’s before it gets into assisting the use of a narcotic,” said William Jacobson, a Cornell Law School professor.
“There are multiple levels of legal issues that have to be considered - putting aside the public policy issue of whether in fact this is a good thing.”
Establishing supervised, state-run drug injection sites is controversial, but new techniques to combat drug addiction are becoming mainstream.
“It’s no longer a fringe issue. It’s being talked about at every kitchen table in the country, and people are realizing that what we’ve done in the last 40 years hasn’t been very successful. People around the country are saying they want a new approach. They want something that moves this into a health issue,” Kassandra Fredrique, director of the New York office for the Drug Policy Alliance told Fox News.
Heroin overdoses in the U.S. have risen from 2,000 in 2002 to 10,500 in 2014.