Rep. Leslie Herod says supervised injection bill still has a chance — with changes

The revision could allow any community in Colorado to authorize supervised injection.

(Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

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A proposal that would allow supervised heroin use in Denver could still become law despite recent setbacks, according to Rep. Leslie Herod.

Senate Bill 40 would allow for the creation of supervised injection sites, where people could inject narcotics in the presence of medical professionals.

It was scheduled to be heard by a Senate committee today, but it has been delayed indefinitely. With opposition piling up, Democratic Rep. Jonathan Singer recently said that “the momentum seems to have shifted,” The Denver Post reported.

What’s next:

Herod still expects the bill to return later in the session. In fact, a revised version could appear at the State, Veterans, & Military Affairs committee as early as next week, she said.

“Basically, they’re holding the bill, and they’re negotiating some compromises on the bill,” Herod, a Democrat representing part of Denver, told Denverite.

She couldn’t discuss the specific changes, she said, except one: The current bill would only allow sites in Denver. The revision could allow any community in Colorado to authorize supervised injection.

“The rationale now is that it won’t be limited to Denver applying for one of these sites. It will be open to communities, should they choose,” she said.

Herod acknowledged that the bill faces some fundamental opposition. Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg, chair of the bill’s committee, said he wanted to “find ways to get them help rather than the ability to do drugs in a safe place,” according to CBS4.

Herod contended that the bill is simply minimizing the harm of drug use. Sites provide medical staff to minimize overdose risk; clean needles to stop disease transmission and access to addiction treatment and other services.

“People that are addicts are already using. Supervised use sites do not create new addicts,” Herod said.

Even so, she’s not expecting progress on the bill to be particularly fast. “It could take multiple tries in the same year to get anything through,” she said.