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The region’s top federal law enforcement official has filed a lawsuit to stop Philadelphia from becoming home to the nation’s first supervised drug injection site, even as

backers of the idea continue to move forward with their plans.

U.S. Attorney William M. McSwain has scheduled a news conference for 10:30 a.m. to announce the steps his office is taking.

In the suit filed Tuesday, McSwain asked a judge to declare such a facility illegal under federal law before one could open its doors in the city.

Lawyers for Safehouse, the Philadelphia supervised injection site nonprofit, have signaled they have no intention of backing down and believe the law is on their side. The gap between their positions sets the stage for a first-of-its-kind court battle that could end up deciding the legality of such sites across the United States.

In an interview with the Inquirer last fall, McSwain described the idea of a supervised-injection site as “fundamentally illegal.”

“The bottom line is that the sort of facility that is being proposed is illegal under federal law,” the U.S. attorney said. “We’re not going to look the other way.”

Still, backers of the proposal have pressed forward as they struggle to combat an opioid crisis that has resisted traditional prevention measures.


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