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DA Rollins: Philadelphia Ruling A 'Turning Point' For Supervised Consumption Sites

In this June 26, 2018 photo, Suffolk County District Attorney Democratic candidate Rachael Rollins, left, takes questions during a forum at the Suffolk County House of Correction at South Bay in Boston. (Steven Senne/AP File Photo)
In this June 26, 2018 photo, Suffolk County District Attorney Democratic candidate Rachael Rollins, left, takes questions during a forum at the Suffolk County House of Correction at South Bay in Boston. (Steven Senne/AP File Photo)

Calling last week's federal court ruling in Pennsylvania an "historic turning point" for the strategy of using supervised consumption sites to combat the opioid epidemic, Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins is calling on the Legislature to approve a statewide pilot program to allow sites to open in Massachusetts.

A federal judge ruled in favor of a nonprofit that is planning to open the country's first supervised drug consumption site in Philadelphia. The judge determined that the site does not violate the federal Controlled Substances Act because the goal of the site is to reduce drug use and help people get into addiction treatment. The sites allow people to use illegal drugs under medical supervision.

In the wake of that ruling, Rollins wrote a letter to the co-chairs of the Committee on Mental Health, Substance Use and Recovery – Rep. Marjorie Decker and Sen. Julian Cyr – urging the House and Senate to approve a bill that would set up a pilot program in Massachusetts.

It's not the first time Rollins has indicated her support for supervised consumption sites.

“As the Suffolk County district attorney, I, more than most, recognize that substance use disorders are one of the most pervasive public safety issues in the state of Massachusetts," Rollins said. "This crisis touches every segment of my jurisdiction. It does not discriminate based on race, wealth, age or orientation. Everyone is impacted.

U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling has said he disagrees with the Pennsylvania ruling and reiterated his threat to prosecute any supervised consumption site that would open in Massachusetts. His office issued a statement last week saying Lelling "respectfully disagrees" with the ruling and views it as "only the first step in a long process of judicial review for this important issue."

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