FACT CHECK: Did Massachusetts Ban Vaping From Safe Injection Sites?
A meme shared more than 1,300 times on Facebook alleges that Massachusetts has banned vaping from the state’s safe injection sites.
“It’s all about buying votes with other people’s money and the ‘hot topic of the day’ is always a good place to start when marketing to the ignorant,” reads part of the caption.
Massachusetts recently implemented a four-month ban on the sale of all vaping and e-cigarette products, but vaping itself has not been banned.
There are no supervised injection sites in the state.
Republican Gov. Charlie Baker announced a four-month temporary ban on the sale of all vaping and e-cigarette products last week. The ban comes as more than a thousand vaping-related lung illnesses have been reported across the country, including at least 83 in Massachusetts.
There have been 1,080 cases of vaping-related lung illnesses reported in the U.S. and its territories, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Eighteen of those cases have proven fatal, according to federal health data released Thursday. It’s still unclear what exactly is making people sick, though many patients used black market products containing THC (the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana) oil that many people believe is being diluted with “thickening agents.” Illicit, counterfeit products from China are finding their ways into the legal marijuana market, according to officials and shopkeepers cited by the Washington Post.
Massachusetts and several other states have instituted bans of some form on vapes and e-cigarette products in response to the burgeoning number of cases.
“The purpose of this public health emergency is to temporarily pause all sales of vaping products so that we can work with our medical experts to identify what is making people sick and how to better regulate these products to protect the health of our residents,” said Baker in a statement.
The ban does not, however, extend to the use of vapes and e-cigarettes already in circulation, as the meme claims.
Even if Massachusetts’ ban did prohibit use of already purchased products (to be clear, it does not), it would be impossible to ban vaping from safe injection sites, as there aren’t any in the state.
Such facilities — which have had successful results in Canada but are inconclusive to some experts — offer medical supervision to drug users in an effort to limit the number of overdose deaths from heroin and other opioids. Some Massachusetts doctors and lawmakers have advocated for them in recent months, but laws against using most of the drugs have prevented any from opening in the state.
In late August, Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone announced a plan to open a safe injection site next year, though it’s still unclear if or when it will actually happen.
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