Clark backs supervised drug injection sites

Congresswoman also talks Trump, pledges “fair” investigation

Congresswoman Katherine Clark supports the idea of opening facilities where people can use illegal drugs under medical supervision to prevent overdose fatalities and refer people to treatment for drug addiction when they are ready.

“These sites, in particular, if it is saving some lives, if it is allowing us to have the intervention to stop this cycle before a person does lose their life to an overdose, that’s a piece of this puzzle that we have to be open to and figure out,” said Clark.

Support for supervised drug injection sites has grown since US District Court Judge Gerald McHugh ruled earlier this month that a provision of the Controlled Substances Act aimed at closing crack houses did not apply to a proposed supervised injection site in Philadelphia. 

“No credible argument can be made that facilities such as safe injection sites were within the contemplation of Congress” when the initial drug law was adopted in 1986 or when it was amended in 2003, McHugh ruled.

But here in Massachusetts, US Attorney Andrew Lelling has not been dissuaded by the federal court decision. He said he would use his prosecutorial powers to prevent any supervised injection sites from opening.

In  a wide-ranging interview on CommonWealth’s Codcast, Clark also talked about her work on a bill  dubbed the BE HEARD in the Workplace Act, which would take a number of different approaches to empower the victims of workplace sexual harassment and try to curb the type of predation made infamous by the torrent of #metoo stories over the past two years.

Before becoming a high-profile advocate for ending workplace harassment, Clark said she was the victim of it. While working at a restaurant in college, she said, a superior grabbed her, and she didn’t even think of trying to hold him accountable at the time.

“I never spoke a word about it,” Clark said. “Women don’t want to make waves. They want to get their job done, and they just take in the humiliation on themselves. That is the point of this bill that we see you.”

Clark rose to the sixth-highest ranking Democrat in House leadership after recruiting candidates around the country last year, but Clark doesn’t expect to endorse in the heavyweight matchup in the US Senate Democratic primary in Massachusetts.

Clark spoke highly of Sen. Ed Markey, whose old congressional seat she now holds, calling him a crucial leader on climate change, and she said Congressman Joe Kennedy, who has launched a primary challenge, is “someone I have turned to as a mentor and a trusted adviser in the House.”

Clark said the MBTA needs a “strong federal partner” to support the transit agency’s work and, although she didn’t directly say whether she agrees with Boston City Councilor Michelle Wu’s idea of totally abolishing T fares, she said, “I always think the fares should be lower.”

Congressman Seth Moulton’s idea of funding better systems for states to share information about bad drivers with one another is a good one, according to Clark, who said that if driver data had been shared more efficiently it might have prevented last summer’s tragic crash that killed seven motorcyclists.

Clark’s comments took place shortly before news broke that President Trump had formally refused to cooperate with the US House impeachment  inquiry. The investigation is so far focused on whether Trump conditioned US military aid and other benefits to Ukraine in exchange for the political favor of an investigation into Joe Biden – one of the top Democratic candidates for president.  

Meet the Author

Andy Metzger

Reporter, CommonWealth magazine

About Andy Metzger

Andy Metzger joined CommonWealth Magazine as a reporter in January 2019. He has covered news in Massachusetts since 2007. For more than six years starting in May 2012 he wrote about state politics and government for the State House News Service.  At the News Service, he followed three criminal trials from opening statements to verdicts, tracked bills through the flumes and eddies of the Legislature, and sounded out the governor’s point of view on a host of issues – from the proposed Olympics bid to federal politics.

Before that, Metzger worked at the Chelmsford Independent, The Arlington Advocate, the Somerville Journal and the Cambridge Chronicle, weekly community newspapers that cover an array of local topics. Metzger graduated from UMass Boston in 2006. In addition to his written journalism, Metzger produced a work of illustrated journalism about Gov. Charlie Baker’s record regarding the MBTA. He lives in Somerville and commutes mainly by bicycle.

About Andy Metzger

Andy Metzger joined CommonWealth Magazine as a reporter in January 2019. He has covered news in Massachusetts since 2007. For more than six years starting in May 2012 he wrote about state politics and government for the State House News Service.  At the News Service, he followed three criminal trials from opening statements to verdicts, tracked bills through the flumes and eddies of the Legislature, and sounded out the governor’s point of view on a host of issues – from the proposed Olympics bid to federal politics.

Before that, Metzger worked at the Chelmsford Independent, The Arlington Advocate, the Somerville Journal and the Cambridge Chronicle, weekly community newspapers that cover an array of local topics. Metzger graduated from UMass Boston in 2006. In addition to his written journalism, Metzger produced a work of illustrated journalism about Gov. Charlie Baker’s record regarding the MBTA. He lives in Somerville and commutes mainly by bicycle.

A former state prosecutor, Clark said there would be no artificial timeline imposed on the investigation. While it appears likely that the House will wind up voting on articles of impeachment, Clark said lawmakers will follow the facts wherever they lead.

 “We’re going to let the facts really judge the timing, but we understand that this threat to our national security is serious. It’s urgent,” Clark said. “We have one year until the 2020 elections, and we want to make sure that those elections are fair and free from foreign government interference.”