US District Judge Gerald McHugh ruled that operating a center where people can use illegal drugs under medical supervision does not violate federal law. Although the Philadelphia court does not have jurisdiction over Massachusetts, McHugh’s decision is expected to have an impact nationwide. It is the first court ruling to poke holes in a key argument of opponents — one repeatedly made by Governor Charlie Baker — that such a facility cannot open because it violates federal law.
The Philadelphia ruling “is absolutely the correct interpretation of the crack house legislation,” said Massachusetts state Senator Cindy F. Friedman, who served on a state commission that recommended opening a safe injection site in Massachusetts. “Of course that statute wasn’t meant for people who want to save lives,” she said. “It’s absurd that anyone would think that.” Friedman said the ruling provides “some good momentum to move this forward” in Massachusetts.