Last month, a package of six bills focused on addressing Colorado’s opioid crisis won support from a bipartisan panel of lawmakers and includes a proposal for the creation of a designated injection facility for drug users. The legislation will be introduced to the General Assembly in January.
Rep. Brittany Pettersen chaired the Opioid and Other Substance Use Disorders Interim Study Committee, which developed the legislation. In addition to the injection site, the bill package proposes a plan for the state to tackle the issue on other fronts, including closing gaps in treatment, prevention, education and addressing the health care workforce shortage.
One adjustment to state law that was identified as a necessary change is an exemption for the facilities on nuisance laws, which stipulates that properties creating a public nuisance through the use of controlled substances are subject to seizure.
“If you have drug use and you have law enforcement show up, they need to know that they’re protected,” Pettersen said. Another important component of the proposed facility is testing drugs that are brought in. According to the Centers for Disease Control, synthetic opioids, primarily fentanyl — which is about 50 times more potent than heroin — were responsible for more than 20,000 deaths in the U.S. in 2016.