Vermont Gov. 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 of Burlington, including a safe injection site where people could use narcotics under the supervision of trained staff and be revived if they take too much.

Gov. Phil Scott, a Republican, wrote in a letter to lawmakers on 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.

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The legislation — an act relating to 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 award grants to the city of Burlington to establish such a center. The money would have come from the Opioid Abatement Special Fund made up of Vermont’s share of a national settlement with drug manufacturers and distribution companies. Before then, the bill required the Health Department to contract with a researcher or consultant to study the impact of the overdose prevention center pilot program.

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

The center would have provided referrals to addiction treatment as well as medical and social services. It would also have offered education about overdose prevention and distributed overdose reversal medications.

Senate President Pro Tem Phil Baruth, a Democrat, said a statement on Thursday that “the dramatic rise in fatal overdoses over the past ten years is one of the most pressing crises facing our state.”

He said overdose prevention centers save lives, connect people to treatment while reducing pressures on emergency departments and Emergency Medical Services and decreasing drug consumption in public.

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The governor vetoed a similar bill two years ago.



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