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Grand Isle Democrat from West Coast warns against safe injection sites

By Guy Page

A California resident and self-professed Democrat from Grand Isle told Front Porch Forum readers she worries about the impact of ‘safe injection sites’ on local businesses.

Grand Isle-Chittenden Rep. Josie Leavitt (D-Grand Isle) is a co-sponsor of H72, the safe injection site bill approved by the House of Representatives last week. The comments below appeared in community discussion of a post she published in the January 16 FPF.

“If you think that small businesses are having a hard time getting people to come and patronize their stores here on the island or anywhere else in Vermont you just wait until you’ve got a bunch of people with substance use disorder running around being coddled by these safe injection sites (which is exactly what happened in Oregon),” Bianca DeValeria wrote.

“There was recently in the New York Times an article which talked extensively about how the substance use disorder population has boomed since safe injection sites were started, since drug use was no longer being criminalized, and confirmed the horrors that people were witnessing there. The detrimental effect that it had on small businesses who had closed their doors because nobody wants to pay to shop while there are people performing oral sex on each other and shooting up right outside (disgusting, but a reality in Oregon since the decriminalization of drugs and safe injection sites were put into place).”

Portland, Oregon has ‘harm reduction centers’ offering needle exchanges, Narcan and other services for drug users – but as yet does not allow injection inside, according to media reports.

Supporters of H72 say safe injection sites reduce overdoses. Opponents say they normalize opioid drug use, prevent police and child services workers from intervening with teen drug users, violate federal law, and open the door to decriminalization of fentanyl, heroin and other ‘hard’ drugs.

The original draft of H72 called for a drug decriminalization study. The bill passed in the House last week is now in the Vermont Senate.


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