May 31, 2024  

Contact: Stephanie Gomory, Communications Director, ACLU of Vermont, [email protected], (802) 223-6304 x111 

(Montpelier, VT) – Governor Scott vetoed H.72 yesterday, a bill that would use opioid settlement funds to create Vermont’s first overdose prevention center (OPC). The ACLU is urging state lawmakers to override the governor’s veto, to establish these life-saving facilities. 

Overdose prevention centers allow people to safely consume pre-obtained controlled substances in a supportive, supervised environment where they can be connected to treatment without fear of criminal prosecution. OPCs provide access to sterile syringes, safe needle disposal, fentanyl and xylazine testing supplies, overdose reversal medications, and other life-saving tools.  

The following statement was issued by ACLU of Vermont Executive Director James Lyall:  

“OPCs are a proven harm reduction strategy that saves lives. As Vermont faces record numbers of overdoses, state leaders should be using every tool in the toolbox to prevent more deaths and foster healthier communities. Governor Scott’s decision to veto H.72 subverts not only the will of the legislature, but also the work of public health experts—including Commissioner of Health Dr. Mark Levine and Vermont’s Opioid Settlement Advisory Committee—who endorse this vital harm reduction strategy. It also undermines the values of every Vermonter who cares about saving the lives of our neighbors and loved ones facing substance use disorder. 

“Public health problems require public health solutions. Numerous studies show that OPCs can help reverse growing rates of opioid use and overdose in our state—whereas the governor’s failed strategy of criminalizing people for selling or using drugs will not. 
“It’s past time for Vermont to adopt a public health approach to substance use that embraces the dignity and well-being of people who use drugs, their families, and entire communities.  

“Fortunately, the legislature still has an opportunity to save lives, even if our governor will not. We call on legislators to override Governor Scott’s cruel and short-sighted veto.”