Put Safe Injection Sites in the Wealthy ‘Burbs [OPINION]
State Senator Cindy Friedman (D-Arlington) is upset that U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling plans to enforce federal laws concerning so-called safe injection sites being proposed for Massachusetts.
The State House News Service reports Pennsylvania Eastern District Court Judge Gerald McHugh ruled Wednesday that a safe injection site being proposed for Philadelphia does not violate the Controlled Substances Act because its ultimate goal is to reduce drug use by keeping individuals with substance use disorders alive and pushing them toward treatment.
"Safehouse plans to make a place available for the purposes of reducing the harm of drug use, administering medical care, encouraging drug treatment, and connecting participants with social services," McHugh wrote. "None of these purposes can be understood as a purpose to facilitate drug use."
Lelling is not having any part of it, saying in a press release that McHugh's ruling is "only the first step in a long process of judicial review for this important issue."
Lelling followed that with a warning to state lawmakers.
"As the Deputy Attorney General said yesterday, efforts to open injection facilities, including here in Massachusetts, will be met with federal enforcement," he said.
Sen. Friedman, a community organizer for Planned Parenthood before being elected to the Massachusetts Senate in 2017, issued a statement blasting Lelling: "It is distressing that U.S. Attorney Lelling would try to create a barrier to desperately needed harm-reduction care for those suffering from a terrible illness. Conflating harm reduction sites with crack houses is ridiculous and dangerous. Establishing pilot sites is a logical, thoughtful, and humane action we must continue to push for in Massachusetts to reduce harm and save lives."
Prior to this endeavor Friedman, a member of the Progressive Caucus, worked to pass legislation to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour and implement paid family medical leave.
While Friedman has yet to suggest a community she thinks would be best suited to host a "harm reduction site," I suspect her hometown of Arlington is not among them.
Arlington, a mostly white enclave of just more than 42,000 people according to the 2010 census, is located north of Boston. The median family income was twice that of the national figure at more than $117,000. I suspect she believes New Bedford, Fall River, Boston or Worcester would be better suited for such a freakish experiment.
When Senator Cindy nominates Arlington as a host community for a safe injection site, then perhaps I'll listen to her lectures. Until then she can peddle her self-righteous garbage elsewhere.
Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.