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Pro-Needles Cape Board Violated Open Meeting Law, Attorney General’s Office Says – But No Penalty

September 22, 2019

A local board of health on Cape Cod violated the state’s Open Meeting Law when it discussed a proposed needle-exchange program for drug users without letting the public know about it first, the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office has ruled.

“The meeting notice did not sufficiently alert members of the public that the Board would be discussing and approving a syringe access program — a topic that, no doubt, was the subject of immense public interest,” a lawyer on the Attorney General’s staff wrote, according to The Cape Cod Times.

But there’s no penalty for the Falmouth Board of Health, because the board held a public forum two months after voting to support putting the program in a former real estate office building across the street from St. Anthony’s Church in East Falmouth on the edge of a residential neighborhood.

The Falmouth Board of Health voted to support the program November 19, 2018 and send a letter that the AIDS Support Group needed to get state funding for the project, according to The Cape Cod Times.

Tremendous opposition led supporters to abandon the original plan. Instead, they plan in about two months to open a clinic in strip mall to offer screenings for hepatitis and sexually transmitted diseases. Clean needles will be offered to drug users from a van that stops at set locations, supporters say.

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