A proposed bill moving through the Illinois legislature could legalize the creation of spaces for people to use illegal drugs under medical supervision in an effort to prevent overdoses.
House Bill 2 would allow the Illinois Department of Human Services to create overdose prevention sites, and would connect drug users with treatment programs.
The bill’s sponsor, state Rep. La Shawn Ford, D-Chicago, says fentanyl-laced drugs are killing Illinoisans on a daily basis.
Ford said funds from the opioid settlement with pharmaceutical companies could be used for the program.
“According to the [U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention], more than 10 Illinoisans will die today, and tomorrow and the next day from an accidental opioid overdose,” said Ford.
The idea is not a new one. Safe injection sites operate in 14 countries, including Canada, France and Germany.
In the U.S., Rhode Island became the first state to authorize the sites in 2021. The governors of California and Vermont vetoed safe injection site bills last year.
Opponents worry the sites encourage drug use and that they will lead to the deterioration of surrounding neighborhoods.
“I really think a lot of people in the communities are going to see an increase in crime and drug sales,” said state Rep. Terra Costa-Howard, D-Lombard.
The measure passed out of the House Health and Human Services Committee and is headed to the House floor.