Vermont Governor Scott vetoes 'safe injection site' proposal

Vermont's governor has vetoed a bill that would have allowed the creation of a pilot overdose prevention center in the state's largest city, Burlington, including a safe injection site where people could use narcotics under the supervision of trained staff and could be brought back to life if they took too many. .

Gov. Phil Scott, a Republican, wrote in a letter to lawmakers Thursday that while such sites are well-intentioned, “this costly experiment will divert financial resources from proven prevention, treatment and recovery strategies.”

The Democratic-controlled Legislature is expected to attempt an override next month.

VERMONT Legislature PASSES ONE OF THE STRONGEST DATA PRIVACY MEASURES IN THE COUNTRY

The legislation — one that addresses a harm-reduction criminal justice response to drug use — would have allocated $1.1 million in fiscal year 2025 to the Vermont Department of Health to provide grants to the city of Burlington to establish such a center to aim. The money would come from the Opioid Abatement Special Fund, which consists of Vermont's share of a national settlement with drug manufacturers and distribution companies. Before then, the bill required the Department of Health to contract with a researcher or consultant to study the impact of the overdose prevention center pilot program.

Vermont Governor Phil Scott delivers his State of the State address remotely from the Pavilion office building, January 5, 2022, in Montpelier, Vermont. (Glenn Russell/VTDigger via AP, Pool, File)

The center is said to have provided referrals to addiction treatment and medical and social services. It would also have provided education on overdose prevention and distributed medications to reverse overdose.

Senate President Pro Tem Phil Baruth, a Democrat, said in a statement Thursday that “the dramatic increase in fatal overdoses over the past decade is one of the most urgent crises facing our state.”

He said overdose prevention centers save lives and connect people to treatment, while reducing pressure on emergency departments and emergency medical services and reducing drug use in public.

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The governor vetoed a similar bill two years ago.

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