Policy Memo

You work for the mayor of Philadelphia, a city that is currently facing a serious and significant opioid crisis. Safehouse, a non-profit harm reduction organization, has been working to open a safe injection facility after a ruling from a federal judge that doing so would not violate the Controlled Substances Act,[1] and is planning on opening up a facility soon. Although they have recently lost their lease at the proposed site of their facility, they are actively looking for a new one and plan on opening as soon as possible. Although some of your constituents are supportive of Safehouse, others are concerned about potential harms to the community from opening a safe injection facility. The mayor is currently unsure about how to manage these competing concerns, and what his next steps should be. He has a number of policy tools at his disposal to help support Safehouse or make it more difficult for Safehouse to operate. For example, among other things, he could release an executive order mandating that police officers do not arrest people entering or exiting Safehouse once it is established, or recommend that the City Council pass an ordinance prohibiting safe injection facilities within Philadelphia.


Your job is to write a memo to the mayor to help him decide what to do next. Since the mayor is interested in an evidence-based approach to this problem, writing this memo will require you to conduct research on safe injection facilities and their potential benefits/costs.


Your memo should include the following sections:

Provide a one-paragraph abstract of the entire memo, including the policy problem, your recommendation, and potential counterarguments
Explain the context of the policy problem before the policymaker
What has happened before? Why is this important?
Problem Statement:
What decision are they being asked to make?
What are the potential implications of this decision?
What should the policymaker do?
How would this work?
What evidence do you have to support this position?
How might people disagree with your recommendation?
Why do their arguments fail?


Your finished product should be 3.5-4 pages with standard formatting (1-inch margins, double spaced, size 12 font). Because this is intended to be a memorandum to a policymaker (with limited time), the page limit will be strictly enforced and points will be deducted for memos that are over the length requirement. In addition, citations should be formatted as footnotes in the text rather than as a separate “Works Cited” section.


Good luck!!

[1] You can read the opinion here: https://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=3529124556672309076&hl=en&as_sdt=6&as_vis=1&oi=scholar

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