Vt. lawmakers take testimony on safe injection facilities

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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) The Vermont Senate Judiciary Committee is taking testimony on safe drug consumption sites. The bill does not approve them but would protect owners, employers, volunteers and users from prosecution.

Former addicts provided the panel with emotional testimony Thursday morning. Sarah Evans, who oversaw a facility in Canada, says they save lives, don't encourage more drug use and help users recover with dignity. She says there are about 100 around the world, but none yet in the U.S.

"The total number of deaths at any supervised injection or consumption space, anywhere in the world, ever, is zero. So I think that that alone is a statistic that's worth pausing and reflection on and kind of reason enough to really consider opening such a site," Evans said.

Committee Chair Sen. Dick Sears, D-Bennington County, says the decision to host such facilities will be up to local communities. "I think communities should decide on their own, but I definitely don't think people should get arrested if they're either operating or using a safe injection site," he said.

The committee is expected to hear more testimony next week.