Colorado Democrats seek to open “safe injection sites” for drug use

By Duncan Luning
A macro shot of syringe with needle

On February 15, Colorado Democrats introduced HB 1202 to the House. This bill, title “Overdose Prevention Center Authorization”, states that “a city may authorize the operation of an overdose prevention center within the city’s jurisdiction.” 

These “overdose prevention centers” are simple locations where drug users could consume their illicit drugs in a state-run facility, under the supervision of “trained staff.” These users would also be provided needles, tourniquets, cookers, and other paraphernalia. 

This bill is sponsored by four Democrats: Rep. Elisabeth Epps, Rep. Jenny Willford, Sen. Kevin Priola, and Sen Julie Gonzales.

This bill has been a focus of Democrats for years. In 2019, Sen Priola attempted to introduced a bill that would’ve allowed for America’s first “safe-use site.” It failed before being introduced. 

In response to this new bill, Republican House Minority Leader Mike Lynch expressed concern, “To say we’re going to make sure you safely continue your addictive habit is not a good policy,” Lynch said. “That makes no sense to try to facilitate safe illegal activity. It’s still illegal activity, so it needs to be treated as such and punished accordingly.”

Even Democrat Governor Jared Polis expressed concern. A spokesman for Gov. Polis stated that “While he has not seen this particular legislative proposal, he would be deeply concerned with any approach that would contribute to more drug use and lawlessness.”

According to the Colorado Health Institute, fentanyl overdoses account for 2 out of 3 total overdoses in Colorado. In addition to this, “fentanyl overdoses became more common, more than doubling between 2019 and 2020 and increasing by 10 times since 2016.”

HB 1202 has not been granted a date for its first committee reading. But it has been assigned to the House Public and Behavioral Health and Human Services Committee. 

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About the Author:

Duncan Luning is Campfire Colorado’s Capitol Correspondent. Follow him on Twitter @DuncanLuning.