ST. PAUL (WJON News) - Minnesota has taken a step towards becoming just the second state to allow overdose prevention centers.

The Human Services Budget passed by the State Legislature, and signed by Governor Tim Walz, includes language mandating the Commissioner of Human Services to establish safe recovery sites. There's also $14 million in one-time funding for grants to help set up these sites.

Drug Policy Alliance spokeswoman Emily Kaltenbach says these overdose prevention centers can be established by non-profits, private companies, or local governments.

So existing harm reduction services providers could add this on.  Sites that already are providing syringe exchange services, and naloxone distribution, could be a center that is serving unhoused individuals.

Rhode Island is the only other state to have these types of facilities. New York City also has two overdose prevention centers, which are run by a non-profit. Kaltenbach says those two sites have reversed over 1,000 overdoses in just the past year.

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Kaltenbach says we're seeing an increase in overdose deaths in Minnesota, like many other states.

People are dying right now.  They are dying in alleyways, they are dying in public restrooms, they are dying in their own homes and what an overdose prevention center does first and foremost is save lives.  Secondly, they become a bridge to the services and supports an individual might need or want.

While the just passed legislature has language to set up the sites, Kaltenbach says more legislation will be needed to actually authorize the sites.

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