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April 19, 2007


Ron Newman

When the state law was changed to allow non-prescription sale of needles, did the law require that the needles come with instructions for safe disposal? If such instructions are included with needles, are they in any languages besides English? These are issues that legislators could usefully address.


Ron - I'm assuming that the people who discard syringes/needles are 'shooting up' drugs, not administering prescribed, life-maintaining medications. So, the last thing they care about is safe disposal of the syringes/needles.

Are you serious?

Ron, are you for real? Do you seriously think that someone using a needle on the street, or in a car, is injecting medication for diabetes and reads the instructions first? I can't believe that was a serious comment. And that attitude is part of the problem. Make everything easier to get, don't forget, whatever the government subsidizes, or makes available, will become more prevalent (look at the spike in out of wedlock births when the babies started to come with a dollar sign, also the spike in kids with certain 'disorders' that bring SSI $$). People have to trip over needles so that addicts with AIDS might not spread it to other addicts. This is absurd government policy. Tell them to buy bleach. By the way, I know have to go the pharmacist to get many over-the-counter cold medications. Has the world turned upside down?

Dominic Santos


Here is the answer to your questions:

When the state law was changed to allow non-prescription sale of needles, did the law require that the needles come with instructions for safe disposal?

Answer: Yes. Section 7 of Chapter 172 of the Acts of 2006 provided for an educational insert "to accompany the sale of hypodermic syringes and needles." The educational assert must include, among other things, "proper hypodermic syringe and needle disposal practices."

If such instructions are included with needles, are they in any languages besides English?

Answer: The Act didn't require this, but another existing act or Dep't of Public Health regulation may require educational materials to be available in multiple languages.

Useful Information for Ten Hills Residents

The Dep't of Public Health was required to develop a program for safe needle disposal in conjunction with local agencies. Ten Hills residents should contact the Dep't of Public Health to inquire whether the Dep't has engaged Somerville in this process and who is the local City representative working with the Dep't.

While contacting the Dep't, Ten Hills Residents should request a copy of a report mandated by the Act (Section 17 specifically) that requires the Dep't of Public Health to inform the State Legislature and cities and towns about the following: (1) proposed locations of sharps collection centers by city and town; and (2) a report on the program for the collection and disposal of needles. The Report was due to the State Legislature on July 20, 2006.

Dominic Santos

As an editorial note, I wonder why the Board is sending this matter to the Legislative Matters committee to consider an ordinance to remedy the needle situation. Residents should ask the Board of Aldermen where they were during the Dep't of Public Health's review of the legislation and design and implementation of a collection and disposal program mandated by the Act (see my post above). Where were our local elected officials when the Dep't informed the City of the location of collection and disposal centers (also required by the Act)? Why did they not inform residents? (Of course, they could have, but, as a regular visitor of the City's web site, I did not see any notices).

Furthermore, the State Budget Season is upon us. Will our fearless state delegation put pressure on the Dep't of Public Health to remedy the needle situation in our city?

It is critical that residents ask elected officials these questions and demand answers. If elected officials are unable or unwilling to provide comprehensive answers to these questions, then they are unfit to serve in their office. We need educated and thoughtful elected leaders, not folks who are along for the ride. I will not be a resident of Somerville in the upcoming election in Nov., but my hope is that residents ask these questions, and demand answers.

Ron Newman

Yes, it was a serious question, and I appreciate Dominic's serious answer.

Dominic Santos

Additional Information for Ten Hills Residents

As of Feb. 2007, there is no syringe and needle disposal site in Somerville.

The only disposal site near Somerville is Cambridge Needle located at 17 Sellers Street, Cambridge, MA 02139. The telephone number is 617-559-0219.

Without a disposal site in Somerville, no one can really expect a change in the current state of affairs. If elected leaders are serious about protecting residents from improperly discarded needles, then they must seek out an appropriate site for a needle disposal facility (in conjunction with the community of course), and advertise the site through the appropriate social service and public health channels.

Ron Newman

Long before this law was passed, we have had diabetics in Somerville who needed to safely dispose of their used needles. What have they been doing?

Dominic Santos


The Dep't of Public Health offers the following directive to folks that live in a community without a disposal site:

"[P]lace [the syringe or needle] in a rigid, puncture resistant plastic container with a secure cap before placing in the garbage."

"Effective July 1, 2008, medical waste regulations will not allow the disposal of sharps in household garbage." Of course, there is an enforcement problem in this regulatory scheme: namely, cathing someone in the act of dropping a needle in the street.



Anyone else see the pathetic irony here? Provost ran her campaign for Rep. by posing in pictures by needles she "found" in the street. The first law she passes makes it easier for the addicts to get the needles? Typical progressive's BS.


Just put a dime deposit charge on each needle and pay the dime back for each needle
returned to a needle depository center. All the used needles will disappear from the streets, parks, and sidewalks. It's the idiotic liberbal politicians on Beacon Hill that were negligent (including Somerville's) and didn't think things out when they passed the bill. Typical fools. We have to get rid of these losers.

Dominic Santos

According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 out of 5 new HIV infections is the result of injection drug use. In a study by the Weill Medical College of Cornell University, researchers found that treating a patient with HIV (assuming a life expectancy of 24.1 years) costs $405,000 in 2005 dollars. As such, a redemption incentive for needle disposal is worth considering because of the lower cost to society (the redemption incentive cost) as compared to the cost of HIV treatment for the infected syringe user. I did not locate any existing research on the use of incentives to influence syringe users to properly dispose used syringes and needles. If the Legislative Matters committee cares to put its money where it rhetoric is, it could start by investigating this question.

Ron Newman

When Massachusetts legalized the retail sale of non-prescription needles, it was not pioneering some new social trend. It simply brought its laws into sync with 47 other states, according to this Globe article from last June. Perhaps we can learn some lessons from these other states on how to ensure safe disposal.

Dominic Santos

The following quote from the Globe article cited by Ron is telling:

"This initiative will dramatically increase the amount of dirty needles present in our communities, presenting a threat to children who may come in contact with them," according to a letter that Public Safety Secretary Robert C. Haas and State Police Colonel Tom Robbins sent to the office of Senate President Robert E. Travaglini hours before the Senate vote yesterday.

It is true that Massachusetts was not breaking new ground with the passage of this law; however, passing the law without the necessary infrastructure in place for safe disposal of syringes (see above noting that there is no disposal site in Somerville) was irresponsible and put residents in Somerville in danger.

Needle Disposal

Does anyone really believe that a disposal site is the answer? Do you know anything at all about drug use? If you think people will pick up their needles and clean up the area and then head to the nearest deposit site, you are true liberals with your heads in the clouds. Outside of returning to the old system of making them illegal and difficult (albeit not impossible) to get, the only solution I've heard that's made sense is to put a deposit on them. Maybe Ron Newman will walk around collecting them and return them for the nickel deposit!

Ron Newman

It seems to me that one answer is to require any store that sells these needles to accept them for disposal.

I do not much like the idea of a deposit system. If we don't want our city sanitation workers handling this stuff, we certainly don't want random scavengers endangering their health to collect nickels and dimes.

Denise McWilliams

The problem with this law was in the Romney administration's implementation. As Dominic Santos pointed out above, the Department of Public Health was required to report on the disposal sites in Massachusetts and make safe disposal a reality. Unfortunately, the deadline came and went and DPH did nothing . The harsh reality is that now the state is under prepared. Fortunately, John Auerbach, the new commissioner of DPH under Governor Patrick understands the disposal problem and is committed to fixing it. Although syringe disposal is a genuine concern, it does not negate the Pharmacy Access Law's ability to halt the spread of HIV and Hepatitis-C among some of the Commonwealth's most at-risk populations. For more about this issue see the most recent post on AIDS Action's blog.

The legalization of needles was crazy

It was a crazy idea to legalize needles. Its obvious that drug addicts are booting up and simply tossing their needles all over the place. Now drug users, are not only affecting themselves but the public. Wait to see what happens when a young child picks up a needle and accidenty contracts HIV or HEPATITIS.

Dominic Santos

Thoughts on the Somerville News

It is interesting how a discussion thread on The Somerville News can produce more substantive discussion on an issue and offer realistic solutions to our City's problems more so than a discussion in the halls of the Aldermanic Chamber. To recap, the Board of Aldermen should not waste time discussing a local ordinance to remedy the disposal program. Rather, the Mayor's Office should work with the Dep't of Public Health to provide education to syringe users and consider siting a syringe disposal facility in Somerville.

Perhaps the Board of Aldermen should consider meeting on The Somerville News web site from here on.

Ron Newman

Dominic, I did make one suggestion above that could be enacted locally: "Require any store that sells these needles to accept them for disposal."


Just put a dime deposit charge on each needle and pay the dime back for each needle
returned to a needle depository center. All the used needles will disappear from the streets, parks, and sidewalks.

No one should be picking up one of these needles without protection from being stuck. It's nice to clean up parks, sidewalks etc. but not by deputizing can collectors to go out and pick up dirty needles with their bare hands or cloth gloves.


I don't know about Hepatitis, but the AIDS virus can't survive in an abandoned needle long enough to hurt someone coming along later. Not that we want kids picking them up anyway!


You want a SOLUTION to the problem or just want to bitch and complain?
PUT A DEPOSIT ON THE NEEDLES AND THE USERS WILL BRING THEM BACK FOR THE DEPOSITS! They will want MORE NEEDLES and the DEPOSITS will help pay for the new ones! This is a SOLUTION for FUTURE PURCHASES! The ones already out there in the parks and sidewalks, and streets DON'T HAVE DEPOSITS! They will need to be picked up by the RETARDED LIBERAL LEGISLATORS that passed the FRIGGIN LAW!

The law was passed to HELP the filthy pig addicts. Now what do these scumbags do as thanks?
Toss them all over the place putting EVERYBODY ELSE in harms way!

"Nobody should be picking them up"???
What do you want to just leave them there for
kids to play with or stick pedestrians???? What a fool!

OK- "Use gloves when picking them up".

If you don't have a solution to the problem, you are PART OF the problem. You're probably one of the dunces that pushed for the law and now don't want to DEAL with the
problems that you caused because you don't think things out.


This discussion is pointless and a waste of time. Junkies will not be bringing used needled to deposit sites, or returning them for a nickel deposit, or any such thing. The only solution which makes any sense is to return to when needles could only be purchased with a prescription. Until then, this back and forth is really laughable. And I certainly hope the BOA or the State Legislature will not waste its' valuable (and well-paid) time on something so ridiculous.


Hey dummy...see many cans on the sidewalks or parks???
Believe me, they will bring them to a deposit center for

They're Free

MA has a free needle exchange program. If they're not turning them in now, they never will. Don't get me wrong, I really like your idea. This is just another failed policy by Ron Newman and his Incestuous Ilk. The needle law was designed to keep junkies from spreading disease to one another, however they don't goive a damn if you're kid gets stuck by one of them and contracts a disease.

Heroin is cheap... we should charge $100 per needle and see who leaves them on the street.

Bo Williams

Hey, at least Ron Newman has the integrity to post with his real name, unlike his many anonymous detractors.

Ron Newman

And ditto for Dominic Santos. (By the way, I've never been a member of the Ilks Club.)

They're Free

Dear Bo,

I'm a lifelong resident of Somerville and I've never heard of Ron Newman, Dominic Santos, or you outside of the confines oof this website. Most of us choose not to use our real names because we add real information to this website and fear losing our jobs (yeah, I know... that would never happen in Somerville). As for Ron, he only posts here to sharpshoot others like some 7th grade punk and you want to give him as I'm concerned, 'Ron Newman' is just an alias. I've never heard of him.

As for his "integrity" in using his real name, I think the word you're looking for is guts, character, balls... something along that line. Integrity relates to the character trait of being honest. The fact that he uses his real name, as you claim, doesn't give his comments anymore or less credibility.

If Ron would add something positive to this site instead of crapping on lesser educated people he would get more respect. As it is, he has a fan club of one: The equally obscure Bo Williams.

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