SOMERVILLE – Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone isn’t allowing threats from federal prosecutors to sway him from his plan to open a safe injection site for drug users.

Prohibited under federal law, safe injection sites (also known as supervised consumption sites or overdose prevention centers) would allow drug users to inject themselves under the supervision of medical personnel, with a goal of preventing deaths from drug overdoses. Mayor Curtatone says he plans to open a safe injection site in Somerville sometime next year in the city after sharing his concerns of a growing death toll due to opioid addiction.

Mayor Joseph Curtatone sees a safe injection site as a way to save lives and as an avenue to treatment, he shared with WBUR.

"The death toll in this opioids epidemic is too high for us to continue to act like the status quo has any chance of fixing it," Curtatone shared on Facebook. "Supervised consumption sites may offend the War on Drugs mentality of some federal officials, but that mentality has done nothing but make this plague of addiction worse. These are our family and friends.”

Since sharing his plans for a site in Somerville, top federal prosecutors are threatening to block Mayor Curtatone’s plans.

"Opening a facility for people to inject themselves with heroin and fentanyl is illegal under federal and state law,” U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling shared in a statement. He added: “Barring a change in the Justice Department's position, if Somerville opens one, federal enforcement will follow.”

Mayor Curtatone isn’t backing down following federal prosecutors promises to stop the site, sharing he plans "to keep people alive" instead of posturing “while the body count rises."

Several Somerville city council members have come forward to support Mayor Curtatone's plans for a safe injection site.

“I feel that we cannot possibly be in a worse situation with drugs in America, I know countless people that have died from drug abuse in Somerville,” said City Councilor Matthew McLaughlin.

“If the federal government wants to come after us, they can come after us,” Somerville City Councilor Mark Niedergang stated following threats from federal prosecutors, according to the Boston Herald.

Meanwhile, Somerville residents share a mix of opinions on Mayor Curtatone’s plans for a safe injection site.

"I understand where they're coming from, but I don't think the residents are going to like it," resident Ray Davanzo shared with NBC Boston.

"I personally think that it's a great idea, simply because drug abuse is a disease, and it shouldn't be treated as a crime," said resident Kyle Langley.


Image via Wikimedia Commons / Pi.1415926535

Also read: The Future of Section 35: Involuntary Commitment for Addiction Treatment in Massachusetts