Under a Democratic administration, Kreit said, he could imagine federal law enforcement taking a hands-off approach to a safe-injection site. Even now, though, he said it is possible that the federal government will not meddle at all.

In Vermont, where some lawmakers are also pushing for a safe-injection site, the new U.S. attorney appointed by President Trump issued a statement saying that opening such a facility will trigger criminal prosecution of medical staff working the site and drug users. Authorities there also promised to seize any assets of such a facility.

Not everyone who studies drug laws is convinced Kreit’s inventive suggestion would be a strong enough bulwark against the feds.

Confronting this scourge, many public health experts say safe-injection sites in Canada and Europe have saved lives and provided a link to detox and other drug treatment services.

“The analogy to an undercover narcotics officer is, obviously, faulty,” Marlowe said. “But I honestly don’t know how a court would decide the matter.”

“If the feds were truly dedicated to this, they can just have DEA agents waiting outside,” Kreit said. “And you’d definitely have reasonable suspicion.”

Kreit said the provision has been deployed in situations where authorities seized marijuana then returned it in states where pot has been legalized. Courts have said the federal government can use the rule as assurance that handing the marijuana back would not cause authorities to be prosecuted.

“In the worst-case scenario, people end up going to prison because they are implementing a safe-injection facility,” he said.

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