Frankly we don’t know if allowing the sale of hypodermic needles without a prescription will have an impact on the spread of HIV/AIDS or other blood-borne diseases, such as hepatitis C. But we do know that for zero expenditure of public money it’s worth a try - a conclusion already reached in 47 states.
But once again Gov. Mitt Romney, looking over his shoulder at what national Republicans might think rather than what might be right for Massachusetts, Friday vetoed the bill allowing over-the-counter needle sales.
The never-in-doubt governor insisted the bill “exacerbates the public health crisis over heroin abuse, and it sends the wrong message by appearing to condone drug use.”
Rarely has such patent nonsense escaped the lips of an occupant of the Corner Office.
But what is even more surprising in the statement put out by the governor’s office are the words from Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey, who we thought actually knew something about criminal justice issues, including dealing with drug abuse.
“We should not make it easier for heroin and other drug addicts to continue using drugs,” Healey said. “We could see high school kids buying hypodermic needles.”
Yep, first they’ll be saving their school lunch money to buy needles, causing a rush at the local CVS, then they’ll start the hunt for something to fill ’em up.
Of course, how many addicts will have the presence of mind to actually buy clean needles at a pharmacy is a big unknown. (This isn’t a population that is easy to survey.) The governor and the law enforcement people who answer to him would have you think the streets will be newly littered with the abundance of needles that addicts will buy, use and discard - well, because they can.
But, hey, this isn’t about needles or heroin or HIV, it’s all about the spin. The Legislature has the votes to override. The governor gets his veto press release, and all’s right with the political world.