Top prosecutors take differing sides on safe injection sites

Burlington city leaders are considering adding safe injection sites for drug users and two leading prosecutors in Vermont see the sites differently.
Published: Sep. 17, 2020 at 7:36 AM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Burlington city leaders are considering adding safe injection sites for drug users. And two leading prosecutors in Vermont see the sites differently.

The Burlington City Council voted to ask the city attorney to investigate the possibility and the potential legal challenges of building a safe injection site in the Queen City.

U.S. Attorney for Vermont Christina Nolan says maintaining a site for the purpose of using and possessing drugs violates federal and state laws, and she argues overdose prevention sites are also incredibly dangerous.

She says the money it costs to build one could be put to better use.

"We should be putting our resources into prevention of drug use, treatment for those who are addicted and enforcement through enforcing the laws against those who traffic drugs for profit,” said Nolan.

Nolan says since Narcan can’t save someone from a crack cocaine or meth overdose, and there’s no way to keep those users safe, even in a controlled environment.

Chittenden County State’s Attorney Sarah George disagrees.

“Harm reduction has nothing to do with condoning behavior. It has to do with reducing harm. And frankly, from my perspective, that’s what public safety is. It’s reducing harm in the community, and every single person in this community that uses drugs is a community member that deserves respect and dignity. We want to make sure that people stay alive. they can’t recover if they’re dead,” said George.

The safe injection site WCAX News visited in Montreal in 2018 said no one using drugs had ever died there. They admit the center works only because there’s total buy-in from city leaders, police, local businesses and the people who live in the community.

Related Stories:

The Fix: Safe injection sites

Burlington officials react to report opposing safe injection sites

Vermont panel rejects safe injection sites

Opioid council rejects safe injection site idea

Burlington City Council votes to explore safe injection sites

Vt. lawmakers take testimony on safe injection facilities

Copyright 2020 WCAX. All rights reserved.