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Federal Judge Clears Way For Nation's First Supervised Injection Site To Open In Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- A federal judge has cleared the way for the first supervised injection site in the country to open in Philadelphia. That facility would give people a place to use illegal drugs under medical supervision.

The judge ruled Tuesday the injection site does not violate federal law.

The nonprofit group Safehouse still hasn't announced a specific site, but Councilman Mark Squilla says the site will be at Constitution Health Plaza near Broad and McKean Streets in South Philadelphia.

It could open as soon as next week.

Mayor Jim Kenney said in a statement that these type of sites are about saving lives.

"We applaud the court's affirmation that Safehouse doesn't violate the federal statute. The city will continue to support private operators such as Safehouse, that seek to establish overdose prevention sites in Philadelphia," Kenney said.

Experts estimate an overdose prevention site in Philadelphia could save 24 to 76 lives per year.

The U.S. Attorney's Office says it will appeal the ruling.

"We respectfully disagree with the District Court's ruling and plan to appeal immediately," said United States Attorney William McSwain. "What Safehouse proposes is a radical experiment that would invite thousands of people onto its property for the purpose of injecting illegal drugs. In our view, this would plainly violate the law and we look forward to presenting our case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit."

Many are opposed to the site, saying there's a day care inside the Constitution Health Plaza.

Safehouse officials are scheduled to speak at a news conference on Wednesday morning.

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