Statement on state Supreme Court I-27 ruling

Today, the Washington State Supreme Court ruled that Initiative 27 was outside the scope of local initiative power.

Dr. Jeff Duchin, Health Officer, Public Health – Seattle & King County said,

In 2016, the 38-member Heroin and Prescription Opiate Task Force issued recommendations that included opening and evaluating sites to prevent fatal opioid overdoses, called Community Health Engagement Locations (CHEL’s). King County has $570,000 in currently held funds as well as up to $420,000 per year in unallocated funds to support a CHEL in Seattle.

The Washington State Supreme Court today determined that Initiative 27 improperly interferes with the budgetary authority of the King County Council, allowing us to utilize the full range of evidence-based public health strategies to confront the opioid epidemic in King County.

Our priority remains increasing access to low barrier medication-assisted treatment such as buprenorphine so that people can access treatment for opioid use disorder when they need it, where they need it. We have close to 90 buprenorphine providers and 7 methadone clinics in King County. Treatment access will continue to expand over the next year, including through our Public Health Downtown Needle Exchange and King County jail.

We’re also preventing fatal overdoses by making life-saving naloxone kits available throughout the county. Over the past two years, we’ve distributed naloxone to law enforcement, treatment providers, community agencies and through Public Health Needle exchange sites. In 2018, we’ve distributed over 9,000 naloxone kits.

And finally, we’ve made it easier to safely dispose of unused and expired medication – including prescription painkillers – by setting up over 100 Drop Boxes at participating pharmacies and law enforcement agencies throughout the county. We’ve just launched a program for people to find the nearest drop box. Text the word MEDS to 667-873. You’ll then enter your zip code for the nearest location.

Published on 12/6/2018