Gov. Phil Scott vetoes ‘safe injection sites’ bill

On June 7, Governor Phil Scott returned without signature and vetoed H.728 and sent the following letter to the General Assembly:

June 7, 2022

The Honorable BetsyAnn Wrask
Clerk of the Vermont House of Representatives
115 State Street
Montpelier, VT 05633

Dear Ms. Wrask:

Pursuant to Chapter II, Section 11 of the Vermont Constitution, I am returning H.728, An act relating to opioid overdose response services, without my signature because it directs the Administration to design a plan for the implementation of one or more overdose prevention sites (also known as “safe injection sites”). From my standpoint, it seems counterintuitive to divert resources from proven harm reduction strategies to plan injection sites without clear data on the effectiveness of this approach.

We are all aware the pandemic has had negative impacts on the mental health of Vermonters. This includes concerning increases in drug and alcohol addiction, overdose deaths and suicides.

Prior to the pandemic, Vermont was making progress treating opioid addiction with our groundbreaking “hub-and-spoke” treatment system and medically assisted treatment of our corrections populations.

We also utilize harm reduction strategies, including syringe programs, distribution of Narcan, fentanyl test strips and comprehensive community education. These are proven, evidence-based approaches to saving lives but we must also continue to focus on preventing addiction in the first place and supporting people through treatment and recovery.

Unfortunately, this bill proposes to shift state policy and financial resources away from prevention and toward unproven strategies such as overdose prevention sites. It’s important to note that what little data exists on this approach is for sites located in large cities, so it’s not applicable to the vast majority of Vermont. Last year, I signed the experimental decriminalization of buprenorphine and am now waiting for the data to show if this had a positive impact on addiction or overdose rates in our state. I believe it’s important to analyze this data before moving to another experimental strategy.

For these reasons, I cannot allow H.728 to go into law, and must return it without my signature pursuant to Chapter II, Section 11 of the Vermont Constitution.



Philip B. Scott

Image courtesy of Public domain

2 thoughts on “Gov. Phil Scott vetoes ‘safe injection sites’ bill

  1. This is yet another “harm reduction strategy” brought to us by the folks that proposed and implemented needle “exchange” programs. The needle programs were marketed to the public emphasizing the word “exchange” and argued that junkies could bring in their old needles and “exchange” them for new ones, one for one. Surprise, surprise, these programs turned out to be simply needle GIVEAWAY programs, and make no such demand that you bring in old ones. And their “harm reduction” strategy in the name of “public health” has resulted in many more blood-tainted syringes disposed of improperly in public places where children and pets are at risk of contacting them. That is a “public health” disaster that shifts the risk of HIV and hepatitis infection from the junkies who make the CHOICE to engage in the risky behavior onto innocent bystanders in public spaces.
    20 years ago, Vermont physicians routinely prescribed opioids like candy because no doctor wanted to be branded as mean and uncaring about pain. Back then, there was understandable empathy for the straight-A student athlete who injured a knee and became hooked on painkillers. Nowadays, the great majority of our addicts are people who made a conscious choice to use opioids recreationally. They made their own bed and are not deserving of all the taxpayer sensibility and social attention we lavish on them in Vermont.

  2. I saw an interesting comparison relating to ‘safe drug injection sites’. It would be like designating lanes on our highways for drunk drivers only. Really. What could be wrong with that?

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