Watch CBS News

'We Have To Think Outside The Box': Lawmakers Consider Safe Injection Sites

BOSTON (CBS) - A legislative commission is recommending state lawmakers approve the creation of injection sites for drug users in Massachusetts. A study is expected to be released at the end of the week, backing their push to combat the opioid epidemic.

State Senator Cindy Friedman is on the legislative committee recommending those safe injection sites, allowing a person to bring drugs in and inject themselves under the guidance of medical professionals. "We have to think outside the box, and we're going to take some risks," she says. "Nobody is denying that if we were to do this, that this is not a challenge. It is a challenge."

Cindy Friedman
State Sen. Cindy Friedman (WBZ-TV)

Dr. Alan Choui, President of Massachusetts Medical Society says, "The access really is to the patient and giving the patient the opportunity and the facility and the education to move on to the medical assistance treatment."

As a first year medical student at Boston University, Nicholas Chiu says he got his first glimpse of the opioid crisis in a section of Mass. Ave infamously known as Methadone Mile.

Supervised injection
'Insite' supervised injection site in Vancouver. (WBZ-TV)

"I remember walking to school that week every day and seeing people who were clearly very sedated dealing with opioid use disorder," said Chiu, who began researching. "I found over 100 studies, none of them reported an actual death inside the safe injection facility."

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker pushed back against the proposal.

Safe injection site
Safe injection site (WBZ-TV)

"I would like to focus on the stuff that we can do now which is a long list of pretty significant and successful initiatives," Gov. Baker said.

Even if legislators give the thumbs up on a safe injection facility, US Attorney Andrew Lelling may not let it happen. His office declined an interview Wednesday.

Lelling's spokesperson referred WBZ to the comment he made last year saying: "I cannot envision any scenario in which sites that normalize intravenous use of heroin and fentanyl would be off limits to federal law enforcement efforts."

State Senator Friedman says she expects push back but believes the federal laws are up for interpretation.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.