The House of Representatives has delivered the first blow to a bill that would give people a safe place to use illegal drugs, voting 98-47 to defeat the bill after a lengthy debate.
The proposal would set up a state-licensed facility in which medical professionals would be on hand to dispense clean needles, revive people in the event of an overdose and direct users to treatment programs.
Portland Democrat Michael Sylvester said the proposal is controversial, but it may drive drug users out of the shadows and into a place where they can be helped.
“It’s a difficult question in our personal life, it’s difficult in our political life. It’s literally life and death in our constituents’ lives,” he said.
Chelsea Republican Deb Sanderson said the proposal is too radical and it could create facilities that become magnets for drug dealers.
“If we don’t think this is going to happen with a facility or a building that allows safe injection use of an illegal substance, then we’re kidding ourselves,” she said.
Sanderson said lawmakers should focus their efforts on expanding treatment options.
Similar drug-safe facilities are under consideration in Seattle and New York. The proposal heads to the Senate, where it’s likely to be defeated.