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Controversial Baltimore methadone clinic delays opening

The operators of a proposed "open access" methadone clinic for heroin addicts, which promised treatment within 15 minutes, say they will delay the launch by 30 days to work out differences with state regulators.

The clinic was to open July 5 from 6 p.m. to midnight, but state health officials said Turning Point in Northeast Baltimore did not have approvals and would possibly violate federal laws by skirting some examination requirements for drug treatment.

The Rev. Milton E. Williams, president and the architect of the new clinic, had proposed the treatment scheme after becoming tired of the drugs and crime surrounding his church, which houses the new evening clinic and a conventional day-time one. The existing clinic also was cited for having an insufficient number of counselors and can't accept new addicts until it is re-inspected.

He had won support from police who believe that handing out methadone on demand at night would cut down on crimes committed by addicts looking for a fix. He also won the backing of several local politicians.

Williams said he is "willing to work closely with the appropriate state officials to ensure the program is well prepared and able to meet its imminent real world test. We all want to make certain that this revolutionary 'next step' in methadone treatment that we are pioneering here in Baltimore, Maryland begins on the most solid footing possible."

Williams said he met with officials from the state's department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Alcohol and Drug Abuse Administration and Office of Health Care Quality, which all oversee clinics. Officials could not be reached for comment Thursday evening.

Meredith.cohn@baltsun.com

Twitter.com/baltsunhealth

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