Following Rhode Island, Minnesota has become the second state to officially support overdose prevention centers. Today, Governor Tim Walz signed Senate File 2934, the Human Services budget proposal. The proposal includes language mandating the Minnesota Commissioner of Human Services to “establish safe recovery sites that offer harm reductions services and supplies, including but not limited to safe injection spaces.” The proposal also includes more than $14 million in one-time funding, to be disbursed annually until 2029, for start-up and capacity-building grants to establish safe recovery sites. This funding was also included in the Governor’s biennial budget recommendations to the Minnesota Legislature.
Safe injection spaces, otherwise known as overdose prevention centers (OPCs), are proven to reduce overdose deaths and are vital to addressing the overdose death crisis. OPCs provide a safe space for people to consume pre-obtained drugs under the supervision of a trained staff, without fear of arrest. OPCs also provide access to sterile consumption equipment, overdose reversal medication, drug checking tools, and connections to critical health and social services. OPCs play a vital role as part of a larger public health approach to drug policy. They are intended to complement – not replace – existing prevention, harm reduction and treatment interventions. Most people who enter treatment don’t enter just one time and it’s important that OPCs are available to keep people alive so they get to live long enough to pursue wellness.