Public health expert weighs in on safe injection sites

It’s a place where using illicit drugs is allowed.

It may seem counterproductive to fighting the opioid crisis, but some public health experts say the opposite.

“There’s never been an overdose death in any supervised facility anywhere around the world,” says Brandon Marshall, PhD, professor at the Brown University School of Public Health.

There are no such legal facilities in the US, but several major cities are considering them. Marshall says there have been discussions in Rhode Island, too.

Marshall did extensive research on a safe injection site in Vancouver. He says nurses there intervene in the case of an overdose, and there was a 35% reduction in overdose deaths after the facility opened in downtown Vancouver.

But the facility’s opening required a change in law enforcement policy. The same would have to happen here.

“It’s unclear legally the way these would operate,” he says.

For example, would users at these sites be off limits to criminal charges by law enforcement? The Massachusetts U.S. attorney…says no. Those legal challenges would likely end up in court.

©WLNE-TV 2019