DENVER (KDVR) — House Bill 23-1202 passed its second reading in the Colorado legislature early Friday morning.
Lawmakers began debating the measure at 2:30 a.m. and ultimately voted to pass the second reading around 6:30 a.m. in a marathon session at the Capitol.
The bill gives each city or municipality the ability to choose if it wants to create a safe space for “overdose prevention centers” or OPCs. These spaces would be supervised areas for people to use drugs. Additionally, it would also test for fentanyl, provide counseling and harm reduction services, connect to treatment, and have trained workers there to step in to prevent overdoses.
Supporters of the bill said OPCs are a better alternative than what’s currently happening with local drug use. They said they want to help people with their addictions and save lives.
Democratic Rep. Elisabeth Epps said, “You cannot go to rehab if you’re not alive. You cannot seek treatment if you’re not alive. You cannot get help or heal, or get well, or mend relationships, or make amends, or be forgiven if you are not alive.”
On the other side, opponents of the bill said they’re concerned with the approach of the measure. They said they don’t know if users would even go to these spots as intended.
Republican Rep. Richard Holtorf said, “I will tell you rural Colorado doesn’t want any part of this. Rural Colorado doesn’t want this.”
For now, the measure has passed its second reading. Next, a final vote will be needed.
However, even if the bill does pass, each community will need to adopt it individually.