Heroin and meth houses are places of misery and death. So, naturally, a faction of Colorado’s increasingly radicalized political class wants government to own and operate one.
The push began last year with introduction of Senate Bill 40, written to allow one Colorado community to establish a location where people could inject heroin under staff supervision. Republicans, who controlled the Senate, wisely killed it in committee.
Anticipating another attempt this year, after Democrats took control of both legislative chambers, the Denver City Council in November voted 11-1 in favor of a supervised heroin and meth house. Any day now, we can expect the Legislature to resurrect the legislation that failed last year. The Legislature must change state law to allow Denver’s heroin/meth house.
If passed and signed into law, Denver would become the first city in the U.S. to have a government-sanctioned injection site for lethal and highly addictive illicit drugs.
Advocates believe the move would save lives by giving addicts a safe place to use, purportedly under supervision of professionals equipped to administer overdose-reversing drugs.
Although it could some lives on site, it would enable and promote addictions — or initiate them — among people who won’t always be near the drug house.
Patrick Neville, a Castle Rock Republican and the House minority leader, compares the proposed drug house to a special highway lane for drunken drivers.
The U.S. Attorney for Colorado and the Drug Enforcement Administration blasted the proposed drug house in a joint statement in December, saying it would violate federal law. They threaten enforcement measures that include property forfeiture, up to $250,000 and fines, and 20 years in prison for anyone involved.
The federal authorities claim no good data show injection sites reduce drug-related deaths or lead more users to seek help for addiction or related mental health issues. Instead, the federal authorities said, injection sites increase public safety risks.
“Just like so-called crack houses, these facilities will attract drug dealers, sexual predators, and other criminals, ultimately destroying the surrounding community,” the statement said. “More importantly, the government-sanctioned operation of these facilities serves only to normalize serious drug usage — teaching adults and children alike that so-called ‘safe’ drug usage is somehow appropriate or can actually be done ‘safely.’ The type of drug use contemplated here is always life-threatening behavior.”
House and Senate Republicans opposing the drug house cite data collected by Coloradans who traveled to study injection sites in Vancouver, British Columbia. They found:
• British Columbia’s overdose deaths have increased by more than 725 percent since Vancouver opened its first injection site in 2003.
• Overdose deaths are up 260 percent among British Columbians ages 10-18.
• The number of heroin users in Vancouver climbed from 4,700 in 2000 to more than 7,300 in 2017 at one of the city’s six injection sites.
All major economic philosophies tell us when government subsidizes an activity, we get more of it. Providing a location of drugs and needles subsidizes, invites and sanctions consumption of hard illicit drugs. That means we will get more addicts, drugs and all that goes with drug abuse.
Legislators should say no to making Colorado the country’s first location for a dangerous experiment, further branding us the drug state. Instead, they should consider a bill to increase funding for drug treatment among those who cannot afford it, and informational and educational campaigns geared toward discouraging the trap of addiction.
The drug-site proposal is far too extreme and irresponsible for most Coloradans to stomach. If the Legislature does this, Gov. Jared Polis should veto the bill. He would save his party from the type of overreach that will ensure its defeat in future elections.
The Gazette Editorial Board