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Coloradans Fight Big Pharma and Big Soros to Stop Nation’s First Heroin Injection Site

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

Among all the twisted, oxymoronic and just plain moronic theories of the left, the most radical is their campaign to combat the opioid scourge by helping addicts to shoot up.  They call this a “harm reduction site” – as if aiding addicts to keep injecting killer drugs into their veins benefits them.  The addict would come to the injection site, go into a booth, and shoot up.  Medical personnel on hand would administer a heroin antidote if the addict overdosed. And that’s called “saving a life.”   


Yet the powerful thought leaders in the drug lobby, the Drug Policy Alliance and its sister group Drug Policy Action, (DPA) rake in millions each year from shady billionaire George Soros and his Open Society Foundations to convince the public and government officials that opening hard drug injection sites across the country is the most compassionate thing we can do for drug users.  

For decades, Soros has funded the highly successful marijuana legalization effort state by state across the nation. But the largest recipient of the $200 million Soros has contributed to “drug reform” is the Drug Policy Alliance and its affiliates to push needle giveaways and injection sites. That’s about $5 million a year to this one nonprofit. 

Soros has “played a historic role in the evolution of drug policy reform from a movement that was at the fringe of U.S. politics to one that is in the mainstream,” said Ethan Nadelmann, head of the DPA. Not coincidentally, Nadelmann for years was executive director of the ACLU, also a huge beneficiary of Soros’ culture-changing wealth.

But Soros and his drug-pushing millions have run into a few snags. Last October, California’s then-governor Jerry Brown in a rare reality moment vetoed a bill to set up the nation’s first shooting gallery in San Francisco. He stated “Enabling illegal and destructive drug use will never work... I do not believe that enabling illegal drug use in government sponsored injection centers – with no corresponding requirement that the user undergo treatment-- will reduce drug addiction.”  


Predictably the deputy state director for the DPA lamented that despite all the time her group spent “educating” the legislature Brown’s position was “outdated” and that mandating drug users get treatment is “the opposite of what works.” Hmm. 

And they’re not giving up. Philadelphia the U.S. Attorney has sued to stop the proposed Safehouse “supervised consumption site” from opening. Undeterred, they are seeking 1.8 million in private funding which shouldn’t be a problem for Drug Policy Action which reported nearly $43 million in assets in 2016. 

After two strikes, the drug injection folks need a win. So they’ve turned their attention to Colorado, where the Denver City Council approved an injection site last November.  But the measure needs an okay from the Colorado legislature to make illegal hard drugs legal, and it’s facing serious push-back from the Colorado U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Drug Enforcement Administration. 

They released a joint statement comparing a supervised injection site to “crack houses” that don’t reduce drug deaths but have increased them in Vancouver, Canad, which has had such facilities for over 15 years.    Their press release noted, “These facilities will attract drug dealers, sexual predators, and other criminals, ultimately destroying the surrounding community.” That’s just what’s happened in Vancouver around InSite, the injection facility opened in 2003. There’s no actual data that the site has decreased drug overdose deaths as the drug “reformers” claim, in fact just the opposite. 


So let’s follow the money.   Big pharmaceutical companies like Adapt Pharma, Gilead Sciences, and Amphastar are principal donors to the mother ship of the injection movement, the Harm Reduction Coalition (HRC), with offices in California and New York.  Incredibly, the taxpayers of New York and California through their governments provide 59 percent of HRC’s funding. Soros is also a big donor; his Open Societies is the largest of several foundations that provide 27% of HRC’s funding. The HRC focuses on writing legislation and training for needle giveaways called “exchanges”, naloxone distribution for heroin overdose, and promoting “safe injecting facilities” (SIFs). 

The drug companies have massive financial stakes in selling the products that would be used at any proposed drug injection sites. Amphastar, with $240 million in revenue in 2017, manufactures two types of syringes pre-filled with naloxone HCI, the heroin antidote used to revive an addict who is overdosing.  Adapt Pharma has an innovative nasal spray version of the antidote, trademarked in 2016 as NARCON after it was fast-tracked by the Federal Drug Administration. 

Because it’s the first needle-free, easy-to- use nasal spray antidote and not an injectable, this innovative product has a huge potential buyer market for police departments, EMT’s, hospitals, friends and relatives of heroin addicts – and heroin injection sites. It will be a big seller as long as the opioid “epidemic” keeps growing. 


Recognizing this lucrative market, the pharmaceutical giant Emergent Bio Solutions quickly purchased Adapt and told investors the company “anticipates total revenue of $779 to $784 million…a 39 percent increase from 2017…due primarily to the sales of (a smallpox vaccine) and NARCAN Nasal Spray.” Emergent anticipates revenues topping $1 billion in 2019.   

Gilead Sciences, another donor to the Harm Reduction Coalition, is a drug company reporting over 26 billion in revenues in 2017. Of the 23 medications it makes, 18 are either HIV/AIDS drugs (11) or drugs for kidney disease (7). 

This is significant because drug injectors are at high risk of developing HIV/AIDS as well as kidney disease and kidney failure which leads to death. 

Reasonable people may want to know: why don’t George Soros’ Foundation, the DPA, the HRC, and other harm reduction pushers invest their millions in rehab centers to cure druggies of the addictions that are killing them, rather than promote hardcore injection sites where they will continue their death spiral?  Well, recovered addicts don’t need a heroin antidote or medication for kidney failure; only addicts do.  And addicts are a large and rapidly increasing population.

Adapt Pharma and Gilead Sciences employ six lobbyists at the Colorado Statehouse to promote the drug makers’ interests.  Adapt’s lobbyists, listed in the state lobbyist database, are Theresa Baillie, Jon Bloomfield, and Mike Potestio. Gilead Sciences lobbyists include Moira Cullen, Christine R. Staberg, and The Capstone Group which employs lobbyist Mary E. Marchun. Starting in 2006, Capstone has donated nearly $85,000 to Colorado legislative candidates, with  Staberg, Marchun, or Cullen listed on each contribution. 


Capstone gave nearly $1000 to the campaigns of Brittany Pettersen, the Democrat Senator who has vowed to introduce an injection site bill in this session.      

The legislature authorized the first step toward an injection site, a needle “exchange,” actually a needle giveaway, that opened in 2012 right across from the State Capitol building in Denver.  That’s where boosters say the injection site would be too. Always eager to help, the Harm Reduction Action Center (HRAC) also supplies addicts with sterile water, tourniquets, and metal heroin cookers – all they need bring is their heroin, cocaine, or methamphetamines. But they can’t shoot up there, not yet.

Lisa Raville runs the HRAC and helped draft a “supervised use” site bill in the 2018 Colorado legislative session. But it was killed in the Senate because Republicans had one more Senator than the Democrats. Following the 2018 midterms, that changed and now the Democrats control both House and Senate allowing them to muscle through pretty much whatever they want, including an injection site. 

But the powerful voices of KNUS 710 am radio talk show hosts Peter Boyles and Steffan Tubbs have been speaking out strongly against a Denver injection site that will just encourage more drug pushers, homelessness, prostitution, pain, and misery like the zombie zone they saw on their recent trip to Vancouver. They call it “the night of the living dead ” – and they have photos and videos on their No Safe Sites page.   


Another anti-injection outcry comes from the grassroots Facebook page Get Er Done Right Colorado (I’m a co-founder). We organized a Rally Against Heroin Injection Sites near the Capitol in January and post legislators’ emails and opposition talking points so citizens can register their dismay. 

But probably the most convincing voices are the young ex-addicts at 180 Ministries, a nonprofit where ex-addicts spend a year in rehab, rebuilding their lives. I interviewed a number of these young men in recovery and each of them literally laughed at the idea of using an injection site when they were addicts. The reason: they would always shoot up the moment they bought their heroin, not wait to take a bus or car to another location. They said it doesn’t help an addict to help them inject more drugs. Since heroin addicts shoot up 3 to 4 times a day, making it easier for them to inject just hastens the deterioration of their minds, personalities, bodies, and ultimately takes their lives. “Help, not more heroin, is the only way to save an addict,” said David Bessey, 180 Ministries director and former addict. “It’s crazy ridiculous to think otherwise.”           

Joy Overbeck is a Colorado journalist, author and Townhall columnist who has also contributed to The Washington Times, The Daily Caller, American Thinker, BarbWire and elsewhere. More columns: Follow her on Twitter @JoyOverbeck1


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