AUGUSTA – A proposal
to create two taxpayer funded sites to allow people with drug addictions to
inject illegal drugs free from any worries about being punished for possession
or use of the drugs will have a public hearing in Augusta on Monday.
bill, L.D. 949, is sponsored by Rep. Michael Sylvester (D – Portland) and
has eight cosponsors, all Democrats, hailing from as far north as Bangor.
would fund two sites where people drug addictions would be provided clean
hypodermic needles, syringes and sterile drug use supplies.
In addition, medical staff would be on
site around the clock to administer naloxone hydrochloride (Narcan), an
injection used to treat individuals who have overdosed on narcotics.
The bill would also provide a ½ mile zone
of protection for clients of the facility and the medical staff where they
would be immune from arrest and prosecution for violations of certain drug
laws, through what the bill terms a “Tolerance Zone.”
The facility staff would also provide screening for sexually transmitted diseases, be authorized to administer first aid and other medical treatments, and ‘reasonable security’ for the site itself, along with some counseling.
There is no cost estimate (called a fiscal note) attached to the proposal as of yet, but estimates in a study published in the Journal of Drug Issues pegged the cost of two proposed facilities at $1.8 million to $2.6 million per year.
Another unanswered question is that clients and staff at the sites would still be subject to the federal Controlled Substance Act, which has been an obstacle in cities that have sought to create similar sites.
The bill will have a public hearing on Monday, April 1st at 1:00 pm before the Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee.
The hearing will take place in Room 209 of the Cross Building, adjacent to the Maine State House.