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Vermont GOP Gov. Scott signs bill to decriminalize drug for opioid addiction, despite own skepticism

Supporters of the measure hope it will provide another way to those struggling with addiction to get medically supervised treatment.

Updated: June 4, 2021 - 2:57pm

Vermont GOP Gov. Phil Scott has signed a bill into law that decriminalizes the possession of buprenorphine, a drug frequently used to treat those with an opioid addiction, but expressed reservations about his decision.

The bill is intended to help drug addicts seek recovery while also reducing the stigma associated with substance use. It will only be legalized for two years – to give experts a chance to examine the effectiveness before implementing a long-term or permanent law.  

"Although I remain skeptical, I signed this bill because it is well-intentioned and offers another potential approach to reduce the impacts of substance use disorder," Scott wrote in a letter to lawmakers upon signing the measure Wednesday. 

Supporters of the measure hope it will provide another way to those struggling with addiction to get medically supervised treatment. Up to 224 milligrams of the substance will no longer allow for criminalization of people who do not have a prescription. 

“Every day that someone chooses buprenorphine over heroin, they won’t die that day. And that’s a day that their family gets to still have their loved one around,” said Brenda Siegel, who lost her nephew to opioids.

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