Should Denver open a legal facility to get high?

DENVER -- A key state committee has endorsed a proposal to open safe injection sites in the city of Denver.

The idea behind the facility is that addiction is so rampant, a safe facility might prevent overdoses and deaths.

"People are dying on the streets of Denver," said State Rep. Brittany Pettersen, D-Lakewood. "Health professionals can oversee people who are using heroin and ensure they don't die of an overdose."

According to Denver City Council president Albus Brooks, taxpayer dollars would not be used to open the facility if approved.

Official cost estimates are still in flux, but a study in Journal of Drug Issues said a facility in San Francisco would cost at least $2.6 million a year to operate.

However, the study also suggests it would save more than $6.1 million a year do to fewer 911 calls, deaths and HIV diseases.

But the plan is drawing some skeptics.

State Rep. Justin Everett, R-Littleton, said he would not support any taxpayer resources going to such facilities.

"Why would we use taxpayer dollars to have people destroy their bodies," Everett said.

The measure still would require approval by the General Assembly next year.

Then the Denver City Council could take steps to open up the facility if it so chooses.