BALTIMORE COUNTY officials and residents of Randallstown, Catonsville and Loreley have reason to be angry at the state for going behind their backs and considering proposals for private, for-profit methadone clinics in their communities.
Several years ago, after a major uproar over such facilities in Dundalk and Essex, the Maryland Alcohol and Drug Abuse Administration promised that no licenses for for-profit methadone clinics -- which are subject to state and federal regulation but require no county authorization -- would be issued without local support. That promise has been broken.
A permit for a clinic in Catonsville was granted (but may be withdrawn) and requests for permits in Randallstown and Loreley, near Harford County, considered without a word to the county. The state has nixed the Randallstown clinic due to opposition, but the other proposals remain an issue.
Local officials and residents must be consulted. Methadone recipients are heroin addicts, some with additional criminal histories. It should be obvious why neighbors have an interest in knowing about plans for clinics -- especially for-profit facilities subject to little government quality control -- even though incidents are rare.
Second, methadone clinics, which can handle hundreds of patients in need of daily treatment, demand sensible locations. A shopping center in a neighborhood is not sensible -- especially one such as Randallstown, a middle-class black community which the county is trying to revitalize and which for years has been defending itself against unsavory establishments like tattoo parlors and girlie bars.
While a methadone clinic doesn't belong in this category, it's not the kind of addition a struggling community needs. Besides, there's no evidence of a special need in Randallstown.
Yes, unpopular facilities have to go somewhere. Yes, there is a regional need for all types of drug treatment. But the Baltimore area has plenty of institutional settings -- military bases, hospital buildings -- where treatment programs would fit in naturally. The state should refuse to allow the methadone clinics in Catonsville and Loreley and cooperate with local leaders as they try to identify locations suited for such programs.
Pub Date: 7/09/97