Denver safe space for drug users sparks reaction

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DENVER (CNN/KMGH) The push to provide a safe place for heroin users to safely shoot up is picking up steam in Denver.

Advocates said it would keep needles out of public places -- but opponents don't like the idea of legitimizing drug use.

"I have shot dope I have saved three friends from ODs,” said one man who uses drugs, but did not want to show his dace. "Wherever they're doing their drugs at is a danger zone for not just the individual but its also a danger zone for families, kids, everyone else."

He knows it’s harmful, but can’t stop. That's where the idea of a safe injection site comes from.

"What we want to do is take injecting out of the public sphere and into a controlled environment,” said Lisa Raville with the Harm Reduction Action Center. The center is a legal, supervised place where people can shoot up.

"No one acquires HIV or Hepatitis C because they don't share or reuse equipment,” she said. “They dispose of their syringe right away and if anyone overdoes, there is a trained professional there to respond."

The harm reduction action center is spearheading the idea in Colorado.

"It keeps the needles out of the park, it keeps people from catching diseases,” said the man who is a face of drug use. “You're basically going to keep yourself safe."

Denver's would look like similar to a facility in Vancouver. They provide everything but the drugs.

The Denver Medical Society and a list of businesses are on board to bring one here to Colorado, but not everyone is on the same page.

"It's promoting drug use in general and it’s not like pot like a mellow drug,” said Tiffany Glenski, a Colorado resident. “These are drugs you can overdose on, this is drugs where you can die from."

"They're gonna do it regardless of where they're at, so why not help them out?" said the man who uses drugs.

"In the city and county of Denver last year alone, at least 20 died outside in a park, in an alley, or in a business bathroom and I think we can do better," said Raville.

Sixty-three cities in nine different countries have safe injection sites and nobody has died from an overdose at any of them. Getting one in Denver would require an exemption to existing drug possession laws.



 
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