"Lawmakers who spent months studying ways to reduce the death toll from opioid overdoses did not parse words when presenting their findings Wednesday: failing to pilot a supervised injection site, as a commission recommended, would be “essentially sentencing people to death,” Rep. Jeff Roy, D-Franklin, said.
At a hearing packed with testimony from parents who lost children to overdoses and doctors who have watched patient after patient die despite available addiction treatments, officials who worked on the Harm Reduction Commission made their most forceful arguments yet that the state should pursue a program where drug users can receive medical supervision without fear of arrest, regardless of prosecution threats from federal authorities.
“I know that the idea of safe consumption sites is uncomfortable to many, but if they are proven to save lives, then we have an obligation to at least give them a try,” Sen. Cindy Friedman, one of two lawmakers on the commission alongside Roy, told a committee Wednesday. “Lives are at stake and we cannot wait any longer.”
Although the statewide death rate slightly declined last year, 2,033 people died from opioid overdoses, according to state figures. A key factor in recent years has been the increasing presence of the synthetic substance fentanyl, which was detected in 89 percent of 2018 deaths where a toxicology screen occurred."
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