Wednesday, September 27, 2023
We have previously blogged about drug addiction nonprofits that want to operate "safe consumption houses" or "clinical trap houses." Marijuana Moment, a group pushing to legalize Sativa and Indica, has an excellent summary of the fight over the legalization of safe consumption houses in Philadelphia. The whole thing heated up again last week when some religious folks got involved. I swear, you can find the law of tax exempt organizations hanging out, like Jesus or Muhammad (peace be upon him) in a whole lot of seedy places. Because the issue before the District Court is whether Safehouse, the Philadelphia drug abuse nonprofit that wants to operate a safe consumption facility, is expressing or practicing religion. It is not a religious organization according to its Form 1023, but all of its members are motivated to by religious beliefs and as a result, they say, the government must overcome the Religious Freedom Restoration Act to prohibit the practice.
Operating a safe consumption house, according to Safehouse' counter-claim, is a motivated by and an expression of the individual members' religious beliefs even if the organization has not heretofore claimed to be a religious for tax exemption purposes. Read paragraphs 130 to 150 of the complaint if you want the whole argument. The government's criminalization and denial of tax exemption to Safehouse on the basis of its safe consumption house is a substantial burden on religious freedom. The look-thru argument worked for Hobby Lobby, a private for-profit store the "members" of which shared religious beliefs against abortion. The Court looked through the organizational form and focused on the owners' religious motivations. Chess move, Safehouse.
And a group of 32 religious people of various faiths filed an amicus brief explaining that treating drug addicts, even through safe consumption sites, is religious duty and expression. That makes sense, but I swear religious nonprofits can already say whatever they want whenever they want about politics. They can already use drugs in religious practice. Now some religious people want to supervise drug use too? What's next? Burning at the stake or drowning in the river, for Christ's sake? Instead of calling everything religion to justify its occurrence why don't we just legalize the justifiable occurrences. Please?!
That's what the government is ultimately trying to do, believe it or not. But it has itself all twisted up trying to get to yes. The most interesting thing about all this is that the government -- sympathetic to any new effective way to address drug addiction -- is turning itself inside out and upside down trying to argue that operating supervised drug consumption sites ain't no damn religion, "just an expression of a socio-political belief informed by science." No kidding, right there on page 7. "Moreover, Safehouse’s professed “belief” in facilitating illegal drug use is not a “religious” one, but rather a socio-political belief informed by harm-reduction principles."
Ok, wait just a minute fella. Don't be telling us when and wherefore our religious beliefs. Just because you think them socio-mumbo jumbo, that's between you and your God! As for me and mine . . . well, you get the point. But here is what else the government said, all the way flummoxed by now:
To be clear, this statute does not prohibit Safehouse from supervising drug use altogether. It would not violate the Controlled Substances Act (“CSA”), for example, if Safehouse employees remained in close proximity to illegal drug use in the public places in Philadelphia where such use has for decades occurred. The only restriction is that it may not invite drug use inside its own facility.
That's because the Biden administration believes in safehouses but there is a statute on the books that prohibits crack houses and safe houses are apparently considered just that. Only they aren't, as I have pointed out before. This whole war on drugs is a mess, in case nobody has noticed. But except for the dying, killing, locking up, trafficking's, prostituting, and destructing of families and neighborhoods, its very interesting to watch.
darryll k. jones