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Vermont House approves bill allowing safe injection sites

A photo of curved wooden desks on a red and gold rug. No one is sitting at the desks
Elodie Reed
/
Vermont Public
The Vermont House approved a bill that would allow spaces where people can safely use drugs. The measure will now move to the Senate.

The Vermont House on Thursday gave its approval to a bill that allows safe injection sites to operate in the state.

Safe injection sites are spaces where individuals can use drugs under medical supervision, and where overdose reversing medication is available.

More from Vermont Public: 10 years ago, Gov. Peter Shumlin highlighted the opioid crisis. Has Vermont made any progress?

Winooski Representative Taylor Small, a Progressive/Democrat, said the bill is a response to the growing number of opioid-related deaths in Vermont. There were more than 240 deaths in 2022, a record in Vermont for the third straight year.

"We have been in an overdose death crisis for too long and in a year when public safety seems to be at the forefront our our priorities, it is clear that we need to expand our approach to address this crisis," Small said.

But Rutland City Representative Eric Maguire opposed the bill.

"I am for continued innovative harm reduction models, but I go off of the evidence, and the evidence has not been validated in the United States," Maguire said.

The measure now goes to the Senate. If it passes, it faces the strong opposition of Governor Phil Scott.

Have questions, comments or tips? Send us a message.

Bob Kinzel has been covering the Vermont Statehouse since 1981 — longer than any continuously serving member of the Legislature. With his wealth of institutional knowledge, he answers your questions on our series, "Ask Bob."