Philly to open country’s first safe injection facility. Could Mass. be next?

BOSTON — As Philadelphia announced it will open the country’s first safe injection site in South Philly, legislation is underway at the State House to open sites in Massachusetts.

“I think it’s good news and I’m glad the city is moving forward on a safe injection facility,” said Senator Cindy Friedman.

Friedman served on the state’s task force studying safe injection sites. She says while she’s happy Philly is opening a facility, it doesn’t necessarily mean that we’re much closer to getting one in Mass.

>> Related: Supervised injection sites remove some risk for opioid drug users

“I think it will be a great test for everybody. I’m not sure it will have a huge influence on Massachusetts because I know that our U.S. Attorney has vowed that he won’t be swayed by the decision,” she said.

U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling has long opposed safe injection sites. When Boston 25 News reached out Thursday for comment, his staff declined, citing ongoing legislation.

>> Previous: US Attorney: Safe injection sites could be subject to federal criminal penalties

Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone says his city will be the first in the state to open a safe injection facility. In a statement he said:

I’m proud of Philadelphia for opening a supervised consumption site and putting an emphasis on harm reduction and saving lives. In Somerville, we’ll be looking at their work as we continue with our own plans to open a supervised consumption site this year.

—  Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone

>> Previous: Somerville could be home to nation’s first official safe injection facility

Jim Stewart of Safe Injection Facilities of Massachusetts says opening a site in Philadelphia will, at the very least, help defuse the stigma around people struggling with addiction.

“These are places that are meant to engage people, offer them a chance to get off the drugs that are ruining their lives and meet in a more positive direction,” said Stewart. “We’re just really relieved that some of these bigoted ideas have been put aside and people are trying to reach out to people who are struggling with substance abuse disorder and give them a chance to reclaim their lives.”

Boston 25 News reached out to Governor Charlie Baker’s office but has not yet heard back.

>> Baker: Supervised injection sites not the answer for Mass.