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Colorado lawmakers defeat bill allowing supervised drug use sites for third time in a year

Colorado lawmakers have again rejected a bill that would have allowed supervised drug-use sites to open in willing cities — the third time in a year legislators have killed the proposal.

Colorado lawmakers have once again said no to a bill that would have permitted supervised drug-use sites to operate in cities that are willing. This is the third rejection of the proposal within a year.

On Thursday night, two Democratic senators and three Republicans on the Senate Health and Human Service Committee voted to kill House Bill 1028, . This happened two weeks after it was approved by the House. The bill would have permitted the opening of facilities in Denver where drug users could consume illicit substances under the supervision of medical personnel. Last year, fatal overdoses in the state's capital increased by 30% compared to 2022. “This bill offers the opportunity for our community to use this life-saving tool,” said Sen. Kevin Priola, a Henderson Democrat, who co-sponsored the bill with Rep. Elisabeth Epps, a Denver Democrat. “To be clear, there is no mandate. Let’s (put) local control in the hands of the communities that know best how to reduce overdose deaths.”

A similar bill passed the House last year but was rejected by the same Senate committee. Another attempt, a more moderate approach developed in an interim committee, was postponed in October after Gov. Jared Polis, who opposes the policy,

threatened to veto it early . The same interim committee has moved forward with four other bills aimed at addressing substance use; all four have progressed to various stages of approval in the Capitol, though none has been fully approved yet..

Sen. Lisa Cutter, a Littleton Democrat, revealed on Thursday that her niece died from an overdose in the back of a car.

“We created this problem,” she said, “and now we just want to push these people aside and say, ‘You’re a drug addict. You’re worthless.’ ”

The same two Democratic senators who

blocked last April’s vote — Sens. Kyle Mullica and Joann Ginal — once again rejected the policy on Thursday. Both said they were not convinced that research or data supported the use of such sites, which are in operation in New York City and have recorded zero overdose deaths among drug users at the sites If the bill had passed, it would have had an immediate impact on Denver. Six years ago, the city passed an ordinance allowing for a supervised drug-use facility to open, pending approval from the legislature..

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Colorado lawmakers have once again turned down a bill allowing supervised drug-use sites to open in willing cities. This marks the third time in a year that the proposal has been rejected by legislators.

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