Denver City Council gives initial support for safe injection sites

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PHILADELPHIA, PA – JANUARY 24: A man uses heroin under a bridge where he lives with other addicts in the Kensington section of Philadelphia which has become a hub for heroin use on January 24, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Over 900 people died in 2016 in Philadelphia from opioid overdoses, a 30 percent increase from 2015. As the epidemic shows no signs of weakening, the number of fatalities this year is expected to surpass last year’s numbers. Heroin use has doubled across the country since 2010, according to the DEA, part of an epidemic. Officials from Philadelphia recently announced that they want to become the first U.S. city to allow supervised drug injection sites as a way to combat the opioid epidemic. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

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DENVER -- A plan to allow safe injection sites to help drug users in Denver is one step closer to becoming reality after it passed its first reading at Monday night's city council meeting.

Safe injection sites allow for users of heroin and other drugs to go to a facility where they can get high without fear of arrest.

The plan passed with only one city council member, Kevin Flynn, voting against it on Monday. A second reading and final vote is scheduled for next Monday.

Supporters argue it reduces overdoses and deaths while opponents worry that it may enable drug users.

The plan is to establish it as a two year pilot program that would come with a lot of restrictions. The sites would have to be at least 1,000 feet from schools and day care centers.

Although the sites would offer free needles and medical care, users would provide their own drugs.

If approved by city council next week, the program would still have to be approved by state lawmakers next year.

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