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Contentious Debate Over Safe Injection Sites In Philadelphia Makes Way To City Hall

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- The contentious debate over safe injection sites in Philadelphia made its way to City Hall on Monday morning. The hearing discussed a pending safe injection site bill.

The proposed ordinance would require community approval from residents, businesses, and institutions within a one-mile radius of any injection site and consent from the City council.

This bill is about the process, not whether people agree or disagree about opening supervised injection sites in their neighborhoods.

It's the result of uproar started a few weeks ago when the city announced Safehouse would be opening a site in South Philadelphia without any feedback or input from residents.

Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley wouldn't answer Councilman David Oh's question when asked what percent or approval from the community should be required before a safe injection site is allowed to open.

Farley says Philadelphia has the highest overdose death rate of any big city and placing safe injection sites as close as possible to the epicenter of drug overdoses will save lives.

"If people go into a drug-free program after they leave jail, a site like this isn't a solution but it's an important part of the solution and move them up to that," Farley said.

The health commissioner is on Safehouse's advisory committee and says he is open to any process that includes feedback from the community. There is no word yet why Safehouse initially tried opening a safe injection site without input, which is why we are in the current predicament.

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