(The Center Square) – A non-profit pitched the idea of an overdose prevention site to the city of Denver city council, which is a place where addicts can use illegal drugs under supervision to prevent overdoses.
The non-profit Harm Reduction Action Center promoted the idea with a presentation to the city council in January.
The Denver City Council approved a pilot program in 2018 that would allow for overdose prevention sites. But the pilot program was dependent on state legislation that legalized overdose prevention sites. That legislation never came to fruition.
In 2023, Democrats in the House and Senate of the Colorado General Assembly introduced a bill that would have legalized overdose prevention sites but the bill did not move forward.
Part of the Harm Reduction Action Center’s presentation stated, “KNOW THE RACIST DRUG HISTORY” and then summarized certain drug policies from the 1980s through modern times.
The Harm Reduction Action Center reported that drug-related deaths in Denver had spiked from 201 in 2017 to 539 in 2023.
“Overdose Prevention Sites are legally sanctioned and designed to reduce the health and public order problems associated with drug use,” the materials provided by the Harm Reduction Action Center stated. “They support the consumption of pre-obtained drugs in an anxiety and stress-free atmosphere, under hygienic and low risk conditions. Commonly, the purpose of OPS’s are to reduce public disorder and enhance public safety, reduce overdoses, reduce transmission of HIV and hepatitis C infections, decrease skin tissue infections, and improve access to other health and social services.”
The Harm Reduction Action Center stated the positive benefits of Supervised Injection Facilities include attracting those high-risk drug users to more likely overdose be in a supervised setting. The non-profit also stated it would reduce crime, reduce community drug use and save taxpayer money because there would less use of emergency medical services.
The presentation by the Harm Reduction Action Center said that public restrooms had become the spot used frequently by drug users.
California also attempted to utilize supervised use sites, but the legislation was vetoed by Gov. Gavin Newsom in August 2022.
“I have long supported the cutting edge of harm reduction strategies,” Gov. Gavin Newsom wrote in a veto letter. “However, I am acutely concerned about the operations of safe injection sites without strong, engaged local leadership and well-documented, vetted, and thoughtful operational and sustainability plans.”
After the vetoed legislation, a resolution was filed for San Francisco to move forward with soliciting donations in order to support the opening and operations of “safe consumption sites” from “various private entities and foundations, notwithstanding the behested payment ordinance, according to city documents.
The Harm Reduction Action Center and the city of Denver did not respond to emails seeking comment.