The city of Somerville is moving ahead with its plans to explore the idea of opening a supervised consumption site, a place where drug addicts can inject illicit drugs under medical supervision. The hope, advocates say, is to save lives.
“The overdose death has increased in the last year and over 2,000 people died in Massachusetts last year alone,” said Carl Sciortino, a Fenway Health Executive VP, who is also a member of the city’s task force for the project.
Mayor Joe Curtatone introduced the idea in Somerville three years ago. He says he’s “not going to be slowed down by any bureaucracy or politics.
"People have a right to stay alive” he said. “There are supervised sites going on. It’s a parent watching a kid do it from their basement -- or somewhere else where they can intervene with Narcan."
There is legislation that’s been filed on the state level that would authorize two pilot sites in Massachusetts.
In January, a federal circuit court in Pennsylvania ruled supervised injection sites are illegal, so there are none in the country.
Gov. Charlie Baker has been opposed to the sites, and said Wednesday that his administration “remains focused on the legal, safe, and evidence-based approaches to prevention, treatment, recovery and education.”
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Sciortino says it's about saving lives.
“Right now, up until now, we’ve heard that it’s illegal under federal law, which is still being disputed in the courts," he said. "But we still have an opportunity to save lives that’s what this program is really about, everything we can to keep people alive."
Somerville resident Lisa Coyne said she’s in favor of the sites.
“I’ve actually seen studies, different countries and different places have those consumption sites and it’s actually helped the problems,” she said.
But not everyone agrees.
“There’s so many other things to deal with and letting people shoot up safely it’s just like condoning doing drugs,” Kyle Sullivan said.
The mayor says he hasn’t identified a location for this injection site, but they are targeting the east side of the city or Davis Square.