Vermont city takes step toward supervised injection site

BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) — Leaders of Vermont’s largest city have voted to consider creating a supervised injection site for people who use heroin and other illicit drugs to reduce overdoses and get more people into treatment.

The city council in Burlington voted unanimously Monday night in favor of a resolution asking the city attorney to analyze the legal challenges of creating an overdose prevention site, also called a safe injection or safe consumption site.

At such sites, people can use drugs under medical supervision. Supporters say it can save lives by giving sterile needles, health care services and medical referrals to people with addiction, WCAX-TV reported.

At least a dozen countries, including Canada and many in Europe, offer such sites. U.S. cities including Seattle and Boston have been debating allowing them. The U.S. Justice Department say they violate federal law.

In February, plans to open what could have been the country’s first official medically supervised injection site in Philadelphia were put on hold amid opposition from a federal prosecutor and residents of the neighborhood where it would have been located.

Critics told the Vermont news station that they think such a facility in Burlington is potentially dangerous and counterproductive in trying to curb substance abuse.

Mayor Miro Weinberger said he supports looking into the option further.

“Certainly, between the need to pursue all options and the progress that safe consumption facilities have made in the Philadelphia area, certainly I support further exploration and possible new investment,” he said.

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