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Thursday, March 16, 2017

Chittenden Prosecutor Creates Commission to Study Safe Injection Sites

Posted By on Thu, Mar 16, 2017 at 1:45 PM

click to enlarge Chittenden County State's Attorney Sarah George - COURTESY: GOV. PHIL SCOTT'S OFFICE
  • Courtesy: Gov. Phil Scott's office
  • Chittenden County State's Attorney Sarah George
Chittenden County State's Attorney Sarah George is creating a commission to study whether the county should allow so-called safe injection sites, where street drug users would have medical supervision and would be exempt from arrest.

George said she is not taking a formal position on the idea but wants an "open and honest discussion" about whether the sites could help in the fight against opiate abuse.

While George did not provide details, the sites generally allow users to inject drugs that they purchased illegally — without fear of prosecution. Rep. Selene Colburn (P/D-Burlington) introduced a bill earlier this year that would legalize such sites in Vermont.

"People in our community are committing countless crimes, losing their jobs, losing custody of their children and even dying because of this disease," George said in a prepared statement. "I have an obligation to examine all potential solutions that could reduce overdoses and deaths and keep our community safe."

The proposal comes after Vermont had a record number of opiate overdose deaths in 2016, despite a series of initiatives to address the problem.

Seattle officials announced earlier this year that they would open a safe injection site.

George is scheduled to hold a press conference next week to discuss the commission, which will include Burlington Police Chief Brandon del Pozo, Deputy Police Chief Shawn Burke, Vermont Cares director Peter Jacobsen, Howard Center program coordinator Tom Dalton, Vermont Cares harm reduction program manager Theresa Vezina, Rapid Intervention Community Court coordinator Emmet Helrich and University of Vermont Medical Center physician Patricia Fisher.

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Mark Davis

Mark Davis

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Mark Davis is a Seven Days staff writer.

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