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Document Type

Notes

Abstract

On January 12, 2021, in United States v. Safehouse, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit held that supervised injection facilities—sites where medical professionals monitor injection drug use—violate the Crack House Statute. The legality of supervised injection facilities was a matter of first impression at the circuit level. Research shows that supervised injection facilities reduce overdose deaths and the spread of infection and are important harm reduction measures for combatting the opioid epidemic. The Third Circuit held that these programs violate the Crack House Statute, 21 U.S.C. § 856(a)(2), because they act with the statutorily proscribed purpose of drug use. Within its opinion, the Third Circuit noted that the word “purpose” in the provision pertains to the drug users. The Third Circuit’s determination that the statute does not require the property managers to hold an illicit purpose conflicted with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania’s opinion, which found supervised injection facilities to be legal. This Note maintains that the Third Circuit erred in concluding that “purpose” refers to the drug users and argues that it instead modifies the site operator. This Note further argues that American drug law is inapposite to treating and ending the opioid epidemic. Thus, this Note concludes by calling on Congress to incorporate addiction research findings into future drug policy.

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