02 / 27 / 2019
  - 02:06:57 PM
Special Commission Recomends Legislature Consider Pilot Program To Adress Opiod Problem

By MyFM's Rick Michaels - Almost seven months after it was convened to examine safe consumption sites for drug users, a special commission will recommend that the Legislature consider a pilot program with "one or more" safe sites as another way to address the opioid epidemic. At the Harm Reduction Commission's final meeting yesterday, members agreed that the commission's final report should suggest that safe consumption sites, where individuals can use drugs under the watch of medical professionals without risk of arrest, are a viable way to reduce harm and should be explored in a pilot program despite concerns about their legality. The report is still in draft form, but staff plans to make updates based on yesterday’s discussion and submit a final version to lawmakers by the end of the week. It’s a difficult decision for the Legislature, federal prosecutors filed a civil lawsuit three weeks ago against a proposed site in Philadelphia, and U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling already said any locations in Massachusetts would violate federal law. Several members of the commission said the threat of legal action should not shut down discussion of safe consumption sites. They pointed to recreational marijuana, which is illegal at the federal level, but has become legal in a growing number of states, as a possible model to follow.  State Rep. Jeffrey Roy of Franklin, who also represents most of Medway, began his work on the commission not knowing what he would conclude, now "see(s) the benefits" in safe consumption sites. He said whatever resolution comes from the Philadelphia case could offer insight.  "Ultimately, this could come down to somebody being criminally charged in a case and it could go to a jury of 12 people who will hear this evidence and they will decide whether or not these safe consumption sites violate the Controlled Substances Act," he said. "There's a long way to go." The final report will be filed with the Legislature by Friday.

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