In 2019, a nonprofit was set to open a center in Philadelphia, but it was sued and blocked from doing so by the Trump administration. In 2021, a federal appeals court ruled that the site would violate federal drug laws, halting efforts to establish the center in Philadelphia and in other cities such as Seattle. The case remains in litigation.
Efforts in Colorado and Massachusetts to authorize centers have fallen short. In 2022, the governors of California and Vermont vetoed safe injection site bills, and last year, Pennsylvania’s state senate voted to ban them.
The bill in California, vetoed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, would have created sites in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Oakland, but Mr. Newsom said that while he had “long supported the cutting edge of harm reduction strategies,” he was concerned about the operations of safe injection sites without well-documented plans. He added that he was worried about “a world of unintended consequences” that could result from authorizing an unlimited number of sites.
In Providence, where officials hope the center can open later this year, Ms. Daley Ndoye said the approval by her city could help persuade more officials elsewhere to sign on.
“This sends a message that Rhode Island is a leader in evidence-based public health responses to the overdose crisis,” she said, “and will serve as a catalyst for other cities and states to follow our lead.”
Noah Weiland, Sharon Otterman and Jill Cowan contributed reporting.