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Bill would create overdose prevention sites in Colorado

Sites would provide a space for medically supervised drug use
Safe Injection Sites
Posted at 3:53 PM, Feb 19, 2023

DENVER – Colorado lawmakers will consider a bill that could pave the way for sites where people could inject drugs without fear of arrest or fear of overdosing.

House Bill 1202 would allow cities to create what are known as "overdose prevention sites" or "supervised injection sites."

The bill describes the sites as “a space for individuals to use previously obtained controlled substances in a monitored setting under the supervision of health-care professionals or other trained staff for the purpose of providing life-saving treatment in the event of a potential overdose.”

The bill’s primary sponsors are State Representatives Elisabeth Epps and Jenny Willford and State Senators Kevin Priola and Julie Gonzales.

Epps said she was not available to talk about the bill on Sunday and attempts to reach the other primary sponsors of the bill were unsuccessful.

Supporters of such sites say they keep people safe amid an addiction and overdose crisis that claims thousands of lives each year.

The Scripps national news team got access into a supervised injection site in Toronto, Canada, which opened in 2017.

Bill would create overdose prevention sites in Colorado

“So many people have died because of overdose, and we know that while people are here, they’re not going to die,” said a worker at the site.

No overdoses have been reported at the site.

In the U.S., the federal government still considers such sites illegal.

However, two sites opened in New York City in 2021.

The Trump Justice Department sued to stop a supervised injection site from opening in Philadelphia, arguing that the Controlled Substances Act prohibits any person from knowingly and intentionally maintaining a place for the purpose of illegal drug use.

But last year, the Biden Justice Department said it was “evaluating” such sites.

Denver’s city council passed an ordinance in November 2018 that would create a supervised injection site under a two-year pilot program.

Councilman Kevin Flynn was the only council member to vote against it.

“I’ve simply concluded that a supervised injection site isn’t the way to combat the crisis. I think it enables it without reducing it,” Flynn said before the vote.

Denver’s ordinance is contingent on the state passing legislation allowing Colorado cities to create such sites.

That’s what HB 1202 aims to do.

A hearing on the bill has been set for March 1.

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