By Shaun Boyd

DENVER (CBS4) – Denver City Council approved a pilot program for a supervised drug injection facility with a 12-1 vote, but the state will have the final say.

The facility would be similar to one CBS4 visited in Vancouver, Canada where users receive everything but the drugs to shoot up under medical supervision. Unless the state legislature gives those medical professionals civil and criminal immunity, it won’t happen here.

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“I think it’s a horrendous idea,” said State Rep. Patrick Neville. He says the focus should be on treatment. “We encourage people to break laws as long as they do so in a certain location? To me that makes no sense. I think we should be discouraging this type of behavior not encouraging it by having these so-called sanctuary injection sites.”

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Jonathan Singer says he understands the concerns.

“Five years ago I would have totally agreed with the naysayers out there as someone who has background in drug abuse counseling. But, heroin is different. People are more afraid of withdrawal than they are of dying,” he said.

Which is why he will bring back a bill to allow an injection site in Denver.

“The question is whether or not people are struggling with drug use deserve to die for their disease. The more we treat this like a public health issue, the more lives save and stronger communities we’re going to see,” Singer said.

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The bill failed in the Republican-controlled Senate last session. Neither the district attorney’s council nor police chiefs association took a position. This session, Democrats are in control of both chambers, so the bill has a good chance of passing.

It will likely only apply to Denver’s pilot and maybe one other and would be run by nonprofits only with no government funding.

Shaun Boyd is CBS4’s political specialist. She’s a veteran reporter with more than 25 years of experience. Follow her on Twitter @cbs4shaun.

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