Thursday, June 22, 2006

Kerry Healey Should Know Better

The Phoenix's Adam Reilly has some of Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey's remarks opposing legalized syringe sales from the statehouse today. Healey is opposed to allowing over-the-counter sale of syringes, even though it is proven to reduce the spread of blood borne diseases like AIDS and hepatitis, because a ten-year-old once found a needle on Boston Common and someone held up a convenience store with one. Note first, that these things happened even though needles are not legal to buy over the counter currently. Healey does not bother to explain why keeping them illegal would stop such things from happening. Also, as Adam points out, Healey is basing her opposition completely on anecdotal evidence, and not on any data or any study. The reason, of course, is because there are no studies that show an increase in needle waste, needle assaults or IV drug use after other states remove their bans on over the counter syringe sales.

The Mass Democrats released a statement today blasting Healey for her opposition to this important public safety measure. Current Middlesex DA and future Attorney General Martha Coakley had this to say about the bill:

"Based on the findings of several states that have already adopted similar legislation, there is no evidence that giving the public access to syringes will increase rates for crime and/or drug abuse," said Middlesex District Attorney Martha Coakley. "adopting this bill is a cost-effective measure that would help prevent the spread of HIV and other infectious diseases. Although studies reflect the benefits of increased syringe access, common sense tells us that adopting this legislation will put the Commonwealth on the path towards prevention of deadly infectious diseases."
The worst thing about this is that Kerry Healey should know better. She is, or at least claims to be, an expert in criminology. I saw her on NECN (I think it was Jim Braude's show, but I don't recall) saying that she decided to get into government because she saw a disconnect between the wealth of research that they had in the academic world and the decisions they made in government. Well, here's here chance. There's plenty of research that says over-the-counter sales of needles don't increase intravenous drug use. I pointed to some of it last week. Instead of relying on this research or the experience of the 47 other states that have this law, she decides do base her position on the fact that someone found a needle on the Common. She is clearly pandering at the expense of public health.