By Associated Press - Thursday, March 13, 2014

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) - The Vermont Senate has passed and sent to the House a bill designed to keep low-risk drug offenders out of jail and get them treatment instead.

In one strategy, county prosecutors will be allowed to refer someone for drug treatment before charging the person with a crime, so long as the prosecutor has filed a protocol for doing so with the state Department of State’s Attorneys and Sheriffs.

The bill contains several other measures, ranging from restrictions on pharmacists selling buprenorphine, to monitoring of people in court-ordered drug treatment.

Gov. Peter Shumlin is praising the bill, saying it provides more humane treatment of people with drug problems and saves taxpayers money.

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