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  1. Cure20
    Safe-injection site called a success

    Two years after the experimental safe-injection site opened in Vancouver, police and health officials are declaring the so-called shooting gallery a success.

    "It's been looked at very critically," said Dr. Perry Kendall, the provincial health officer. "On all the measures that we've looked at, we've seen some measures of success."

    In the second year, more than 600 people a day used the site to safely inject their drugs, and there were almost 200 overdose interventions.

    "We didn't stop overdoses -- there were hundreds of overdoses inside the site. But none of them resulted in a fatality," Kendall said.

    Kendall said there were also measured reductions in shooting up around the site and fewer discarded needles and drug equipment.

    Vancouver police Const. Tim Fanning said an increased police presence and the safe-injection site have made the area safer for residents.

Comments

  1. Cure20

    That is unbeliveable. 600 people used this place in one day, Im actully surprised that a city like that could be so supportive and reach out to the community like that to save lives.Edited by: Cure20
  2. Balzafire
    RESOLVED: Canada’s high court to rule on safe-injection site

    [imgl=white]https://www.drugs-forum.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=20109&stc=1&d=1305085557[/imgl]VANCOUVER — The Supreme Court of Canada will hear arguments this week about the fate of Vancouver’s safe-injection site.

    Insite allows drug addicts to inject heroin under the supervision of a nurse, but the federal Conservative government wants the facility shut down.

    The stakes are high because the high court’s decision will affect not only Insite, but the fate of similar sites that could open across the country.

    The B.C. government says the evidence is clear — Insite saves lives.

    Supporters say it also reduces the spread of HIV and hepatitis, and curbs crime and open drug use.

    The federal government rejects that evidence, arguing the facility fosters addiction and runs counter to its tough-on-crime agenda.

    The court will decide whether Insite falls under the jurisdiction of the province and whether closing it violates the rights of drug addicts.


    Canadian Press
    May 09 2011
    http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/...a-s-high-court-to-rule-on-safe-injection-site
  3. Balzafire
    Re: Canada’s high court to rule on safe-injection site

    Fate of supervised injection site rests with Supreme Court

    [imgl=white]https://www.drugs-forum.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=20110&stc=1&d=1305086020[/imgl]The Supreme Court of the Canada will hear arguments this week that will likely determine the future of Vancouver's supervised injection site, known as Insite.

    The court will have to decide whether Insite is a health-care facility under the jurisdiction of the B.C. government, and whether closing it violates the rights of impoverished drug addicts.

    Supporters, including the province, say a body of peer-reviewed studies has proven Insite prevents overdose deaths, reduces the spread of HIV and hepatitis, and curbs crime and open drug use.

    But the federal government rejects that evidence, arguing the facility fosters addiction and runs counter to its tough-on-crime agenda.

    "I'm unsure about what the future actually holds," said Liz Evans, the founder and executive director of the Portland Hotel Society, which runs the facility.

    "We all are well aware that drugs aren't good for people and people use them for all sorts of reasons," said Evans.

    "The issue we have is that the people who use them illicitly and are pushed to the margins and are using things that are impure, are putting their lives at risk," she said.
    Courts kept clinic open

    The clinic was opened in 2003 as the first of its kind in North America. It allows drug addicts to inject their own drugs in a clean environment under the supervision of a nurse, but it requires an exemption from federal Health Act legislation to operate.

    The initial exemption was granted by the federal Liberal government, but since then Conservative government has indicated it wants to end the exemption and see the supervised injection site closed.

    Advocates for the clinic successfully challenged the federal government, winning a B.C. Supreme Court decision later upheld by the B.C. Appeal Court in January 2010 that found Insite is a health facility and so falls under provincial jurisdiction, not federal.

    Federal lawyers appealed to case to the Supreme Court of Canada, arguing that Insite makes it easier for people to break the law.
    Funded by B.C. government

    The B.C. government has spent about $3 million a year running Insite, making it central part of its harm-reduction strategy on Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.

    Over two dozen studies in various medical journals have hailed the facility as a success story, suggesting it has reduced overdose deaths, HIV and hepatitis rates and crime in the 10-block radius of the impoverished Downtown Eastside, where the city's intravenous drug users are concentrated.

    The B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV-AIDS has said that since Insite opened, there's been a 30 per cent increase in the number of addicts who enter detox. Other Canadian cities, such as Victoria and Toronto, have said they want to open their own safe-injection clinics, modelled on Insite.


    CBC News
    May 9, 2011
    http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/story/2011/05/09/bc-insite-supreme-court-canada.html
  4. Balzafire
    Re: Canada’s high court to rule on safe-injection site

    Supreme Court to hear harm-reduction case
    NEWS / Insite trial could be as big as Morgentaler case

    [imgl=white]https://www.drugs-forum.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=20116&stc=1&d=1305131307[/imgl]On Thursday, May 12, the Supreme Court of Canada will begin hearing arguments for and against the continued operation of Insite, Vancouver’s safe injection site. With three respondents and 11 intervenors in the case, the impact could be significant on drug laws in Canada.

    While the decision of the Supreme Court of British Columbia determined that Insite should remain open, as it is under the jurisdiction of the provincial government as a health service, many of the respondents and intervenors plan to make arguments about the very constitutionality of drug laws.

    “In the health [sector], it’s probably the most important case since Morgentaler on abortion,” says Louis Letellier, a health lawyer with Cactus in Montreal and a board member with the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, both of which are intervenors in the case.

    “We are using the Morgentaler case to say when people are in danger because we’re not offering sufficient health support or health services, then government must act, and if we deny those health services, then we’re wrong as government,” Letellier says.

    Cactus is one of a handful of nonprofits across the country that helps drug users and sex workers by reducing “the risks associated with those practices and improving their quality of life.”

    Letellier adds that a victory will underscore the importance of harm reduction, a principle pioneered by HIV/AIDS activists that acknowledges that complete abstinence from drug use isn’t achievable for all people all the time.

    And if harm-reduction advocates lose?

    “Well, we’re back to a very dark period,” Letellier says. “We’re going to lose all the efforts we’ve made through the last 20 years in prevention, promotion of health towards sex workers, towards people who use drugs as well, so it’s a very important decision.”

    Some of the intervenors will argue that criminalizing possession and trafficking of illicit drugs violates the Charter provisions around right to life, security and liberty. For drug users, it frames the issue as one of health rather than of criminal justice.

    “We say with reference to drug addiction more generally, it is unconstitutional to criminalize conduct that drug addiction compels,” says Ryan Dalziel, the counsel for the BC Civil Liberties Association, another intervenor.

    “We say that if somebody has no realistic choice but to break the law, whether because of mental illness or because they’re being threatened, or whatever reason — if they have no realistic choice — then the law is, you cannot impose criminal sanctions for what they’ve done,” Dalziel says. “We say that the nature of addiction is such that for at least some addicts at some times, they have no realistic choice but to purchase and consume the drugs to which they’re addicted.

    “For that reason, the absolute ban on possession and trafficking in the criminal law goes too far,” Dalziel says. “They’re unconstitutional.”

    The Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users (VANDU), one of the respondents — alongside the Portland Hotel Society, which runs Insite, and the BC provincial government — is making the case that drug laws themselves are a barrier to addicts from accessing healthcare.

    “The fact that you’re criminalized for your addiction and your behaviour and what you put in your body creates this whole set of conditions that people can’t access the healthcare treatment that they need,” says Aiyanas Ormond, a community organizer at VANDU. “Insite should be allowed on those grounds – that it provides healthcare to people who would otherwise be prevented from getting it.”

    Ormond also points to the fact that many of the harms associated with drug use are a function of criminalization rather than the drugs themselves.

    “The sense of our lawyer is that if we won this case, then anyone who’s diagnosed as addicted by a health professional could no longer be criminalized for injecting or smoking heroine or cocaine,” Ormond says, adding that while Insite is the “Cadillac model” of safe injection sites, VANDU is looking at more affordable grassroots approaches to similar kinds of safe facilities for drug users.

    Many provincial governments will be looking to the Insite case before they roll out their own safe injection facilities as part of harm-reduction strategies.

    “In Quebec, safe injection sites are part of the possibilities in harm reduction,” Letellier says. “It’s written black-on-white in the public health national plan, but the minister is just waiting for a decision. And he’s probably not the only one.”

    While Cactus plans to open a safe injection site of its own in Montreal if the Supreme Court rules in favour of Insite’s continued operation, Letellier adds that because the money comes from the ministry, Cactus needs to have that decision so that the funding for its other services isn’t jeopardized.

    The federal government, meanwhile, is basing its arguments on legislative authority.

    “The plaintiffs are challenging this government's ability to regulate highly addictive, dangerous drugs,” says a spokesperson for Health Canada. “We must defend the government's ability to do so for the safety of Canadians. Our government cares about preventing people from becoming drug addicts.

    “The focus of our National Anti-Drug Strategy is on prevention and treatment for those with drug dependencies. As part of the strategy, we have made significant investments to bolster existing treatment efforts through the Treatment Action Plan. Our law-and-order agenda remains a priority of this government, and we will continue putting drug dealers in jail, and cracking down on gangs and organized crime so that our children are safe.”

    Dalziel says that even if the federal government has the legislative authority to regulate Insite, the exercise of that authority must be compliant with the Charter, which goes to the root of his argument before the Court.

    “If somebody had no realistic choice but to break the law, then that can’t be criminalized,” Dalziel says.

    Letellier points to the mounting evidence of Insite’s efficacy with reducing deaths from overdoses. A recent study confirming the life-saving role of Insite was published in the medical journal The Lancet.

    The federal government will have a hard time arguing that Insite’s activities increase criminal activity in the area or that it invites people addicted to drugs to stay on them, Letellier says. “They don’t have that evidence – on the contrary.

    “The evidence says that these programs are very helpful. They bring people who normally would not go to health services to come, then to integrate some services. Hopefully at least we’re going to stop the epidemic, and we’re going to stop at least a very high percentage of the overdoses and deaths. We do have this evidence now.”


    Dale Smith / National
    May 11, 2011

    http://www.xtra.ca/public/Ottawa/Supreme_Court_to_hear_harmreduction_case-10138.aspx
  5. Balzafire
    Re: UPDATED: Canada’s high court to rule on safe-injection site

    Safe drug sites could spread: judge



    Supreme Court hearing legal arguments on fate of B.C.'s safe-injection program



    [imgr=white]https://www.drugs-forum.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=20168&stc=1&d=1305326667[/imgr]The legal fight over the future of Vancouver's safe-injection site could set a precedent that allows similar facilities to spring up across Canada, a judge at Canada's top court said Thursday.

    Hearing legal arguments Thursday before the Supreme Court of Canada, Justice Marshall Rothstein suggested that if the court's ruling leads to the site's continued existence, similar facilities could sprout up in other cities.

    The safe-injection site provides a spot for addicts to inject drugs using sterile needles under a nurse's supervision.

    It has been linked in studies to a decline in the number of fatal overdoses in the area.

    "If you're successful here, there could be Insites all over the country," Rothstein told an Insite lawyer during the Thursday hearing.

    The fate of Insite has been unclear since the federal government refused to renew a Health Canada exemption that permitted the facility to operate in contravention of criminal drug laws.

    Federal government lawyers argued that Ottawa, not the province, has the right to decide whether to allow the 8-year-old Insite to continue to operate.

    The government says the federal Criminal Code trumps the provincial jurisdiction of health-care delivery.

    The former Liberal government of Jean Chrétien approved the original exemption in 2003, but the Harper government refused to renew it in 2008. Then-health minister Tony Clement told the House of Commons standing committee on health that safe injection sites "divert valuable dollars away from treatment."

    "That's our money. That's our spending decision," said Craig Jones, representing the B.C. attorney general. "That's the core of the provincial interest."

    Federal government lawyers suggested that if the Supreme Court of Canada upholds two lower court decisions that sided with the province of British Columbia, there could be widespread ramifications for the health-care system, including decentralizing control of illegal drugs.

    "The only question is, what are the consequences to the addict?" said Justice Ian Binnie.

    "The focus here is a particular facility that is being shut and by reason of being shut down forces people onto the street," he said.

    Research has found that safe injections sites in general contain the spread of HIV/ AIDS, reduce public disorder and help addicts enter detox and other treatment.

    The case has attracted widespread attention. A long lineup of people snaked its way into the Supreme Court building Thursday morning, with some, such as Insite nurse Tim Gauthier, making the trip from Vancouver to watch in person.




    By JORDAN PRESS
    Postmedia News
    May 13, 2011
    http://www.montrealgazette.com/news/Safe+drug+sites+could+spread+judge/4776231/story.html

  6. Balzafire
    Re: UPDATED: Canada’s high court to rule on safe-injection site

    Insite’s next battle: supervised inhalation

    [imgl=white]https://www.drugs-forum.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=20198&stc=1&d=1305437035[/imgl]Walk to the back of North America’s only supervised drug injection facility – past the tables numbered one through 12, beyond the people shooting heroin into their veins – and you’ll spy a room that appears to be nothing more than crowded storage space.

    But this room inside Vancouver’s Insite clinic is more than just a keeper of filing cabinets. Built when the facility opened in the city’s drug-ridden Downtown Eastside eight years ago, the space is designed for supervised inhalation and outfitted with special ventilation equipment.

    Insite’s operators have twice applied for a federal health exemption to allow crack cocaine smokers to use the room – the request was rejected in 2006, ignored in 2009. Proponents say the room would allow health officials to reach a fast-growing segment of drug users, a group prone to viruses because of dirty crack pipes. Critics say scientific evidence for the benefits of supervised inhalation rooms is scant, and such a facility would hurt addicts by allowing them a space to continue their habit.

    Lawyers for Insite and the federal government, among others, were in the Supreme Court of Canada this week to argue about the facility’s future. While the high court ruling will deal with Insite’s injection component, a favourable decision could clear the path for the facility to attempt to launch an inhalation space.

    Lorna Bird is hoping that happens. Her 20-year-old daughter died in 2008 after overdosing on crack cocaine while smoking by herself. Deanna wasn’t an injector, and though overdoses among smokers are rare, Ms. Bird said the case highlights the danger inhalers can face. “I believe if there had been a safe inhalation site, she’d be alive today,” Ms. Bird said through tears.

    Ms. Bird, 54, is president of the Western Aboriginal Harm Reduction Society, a group dedicated to improving the quality of life for native people who use illicit drugs. She said she smokes crack every day and would use an inhalation room if one were to open. “There are things that would have to be ironed out. I would not like to see a crack shack, where everybody’s sitting there and everybody’s smoking up.”

    Insite’s inhalation room was built to mirror those established in Europe. More than 40 facilities with both injection and inhalation areas were operating in the Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland by late 2003. Insite opened in September, 2003, six years after Vancouver Coastal Health declared a public health emergency in the Downtown Eastside.

    Vancouver Coastal Health finances the facility, but it’s operated by the non-profit Portland Hotel Society. In August, 2005, PHS wrote to the federal Liberal government requesting authorization to open the supervised inhalation room. After failing to get a response, PHS sent a follow-up letter on Jan. 2, 2006. A federal election was held on Jan. 23 and the Conservatives won a minority government. On Feb. 1, PHS received a letter stating its exemption request had been denied.

    “Health Canada would only consider granting an exemption to allow such a facility to operate on a scientific research basis to gather evidence to demonstrate its effectiveness on the health needs of users or as a public health approach,” the rejection letter said.

    “To date, a strong case addressing all of the previously mentioned elements has yet to be made to Health Canada. As a result, we are not in a position to take action on your request at this time.”

    A more detailed exemption request was sent to Ottawa in November, 2009. The federal government did not respond, but with the legal questions surrounding Insite, a PHS spokesman said, the society didn’t really expect an answer. The spokesman said an inhalation room would be part of the next stage, along with a second injection facility.

    Liz Evans, executive director of PHS, said the goal of the inhalation room is clear – bringing addicts into a safe space where they can obtain clean pipes, and where detox services are at hand. “People don’t have a gateway into support if they’re smoking in alleys and being marginalized,” she said.

    The argument for an inhalation space is similar to that for an injection site, with a couple of notable differences. The evidence on HIV and hepatitis C being transmitted through crack sharing is not definitive. A 2009 study by the British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS found people who smoke crack cocaine are at increased risk of contracting HIV, although it was unclear whether the virus was contracted through smoking or other risky behaviour associated with drug use, such as needle sharing or unprotected sex.

    Insite’s proponents say an inhalation room would also reduce public disorder because fewer people would be smoking on the streets.

    Gwen Landolt, president of the Drug Prevention Network of Canada, a group that advocates for abstinence-based alcohol recovery and treatment, questioned the need for a supervised inhalation room.

    “This is detrimental to the drug addict, to families, to the community. It doesn’t serve any purpose, apart from those people who want to liberalize drug use,” she said.

    “You want to cure them of addiction and you do that by treatment and you give them hope.”

    Patricia Daly, Vancouver Coastal Health’s chief medical health officer, said officials need to evaluate whether current harm-reduction strategies for crack cocaine users are sufficient – and get an accurate count of the number of crack smokers. And a thorough scrutiny of the merits of a supervised inhalation site is needed before one is added to any harm reduction approach, she said.

    “The question of a supervised inhalation site is one that people have asked about, because we do wonder if we could achieve some benefits with that that we’ve seen with a supervised injection facility. Being able to engage people, get them into treatment, but it still needs to be studied.”



    SUNNY DHILLON
    Globe and Mail
    May. 14, 2011
    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news...-battle-supervised-inhalation/article2021966/
  7. Balzafire
    Re: UPDATED: Canada’s high court to rule on safe-injection site

    Drug injection sites counter-productive

    [imgl=white]https://www.drugs-forum.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=20234&stc=1&d=1305659185[/imgl]If the Supreme Court of Canada decides Insite, a Vancouver-based health-care facility in the city's downtown eastside, falls under provincial jurisdiction, similar 'safe' injection sites could become a reality in cities across the country.

    And soon would begin the downward spiral further blurring the lines between right and wrong, legal and illegal in this country.

    Insite offers, among other things, the option for drug users to shoot up under the watchful eye of a nurse.

    Forget for a moment the ongoing war on drugs, and forget for a moment that selling drugs is illegal, using drugs is illegal, and there is a facility in existence in this country that not only turns a blind eye to both of these facts. Insite chooses to not only condone the use of injection drugs but offers medical supervision so as to ensure that the users can continue to break the law -- safely.

    The argument for these facilities appears to be that providing a location for medically supervised drug use, deaths can be prevented.

    Surely, injection drug users and most certainly drug dealers live every day under the potential penalty of death. Surely, they are aware of the realities of their choices. Sharing needles does increase the risk of HIV and overdosing does increase the risk of death, not to mention the risks associated with buying drugs off the street.

    What is the message to drug dealers when our cities go from trying to rid our streets of drugs, to providing safe shelters and medical staff to oversee the illegal drug use?

    In the 10 years before Insite opened in Vancouver there were more than 2,000 drug overdoses.

    Since the facility has opened, there have been about 2,400 overdoses, but no deaths have resulted.

    Clearly the fundamental problem isn't going away. Drug users continue to use drugs and the dealers who peddle death by injection are getting a lot more repeat business as a result of the good work of the medical professionals ensuring that those individuals who overdose are revived to use another day.

    If we want to prevent needless deaths, we need to address the root problems and causes. We should not be telling the next generation of kids to "just say no to drugs ... and if you can't, don't worry we'll provide you with a nurse so you can be safe when you shoot up."

    By JOHN CHAMBERS
    The Sudbury Star
    May 17, 2011
    http://www.thesudburystar.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=3127301

  8. Motorhead
    Re: UPDATED: Canada’s high court to rule on safe-injection site

    This is a fairly big case here in the Great White North, and it has spurred some rigorous debate from both sides. Thanks for keeping it updated B.

    Quick Poly Sci lesson: The Supreme Court of Canada is made up of the Chief Justice and eight Puisne Judges for a total of nine. All nine sit during a case, but a majority decision is not necessary, a 5-4 majority is all it takes to win.

    Here are some quote's of the sitting judges from last week. Some are from articles in this thread, others from a quick google of other articles.

    Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin:
    Justice Louis LeBel:
    Justice Rosalie Abella:
    Justice Ian Binnie:
    Justice Louise Charron:
    Justice Marshall Rothstein:
    I could not find any quotes from Justice Morris Fish, Marie Deschamps and Thomas Cromwell.

    Bearing in mind that these are news article quotes taken from a much larger context, it seems to me that most of the group is pro Insite. Or maybe just the media is.

    But from what I can gather, it appears that when grilled by the judges about the statistical data, the government lawyers choked.

    I take Insite: 6-3
  9. Balzafire
    Re: DEVELOPING STORY: Canada’s high court to rule on safe-injection site

    If a drug policy works, Harper wants nothing to do with it

    [imgl=white]https://www.drugs-forum.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=20245&stc=1&d=1305686845[/imgl]A scene that said much about Prime Minister Stephen Harper unfolded last week at the Supreme Court of Canada.

    At a hearing about the legal status of Insite, the supervised injection site in Vancouver, a lawyer representing the federal government acknowledged the facility had been granted a federal exemption from drug laws under a clause that permits scientific study. Insite is an experiment, in other words.

    “And it worked,” observed Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin.

    A long list of scientific research papers published in prestigious peer-reviewed medical journals showed that Insite had done exactly what it was designed to do. Overdose deaths down. Rates of HIV and hepatitis C infection down. “Lives are being saved, diseases are being prevented by this site, and are we putting too fine a point on it by saying the site has nothing to do with it?” McLachlin asked the federal lawyer.

    “In the end, this program somehow, while not being perfect, works,” interjected Justice Louis LeBel. “Have you evidence that tends to demonstrate that this program doesn’t work?”

    The lawyer’s stammered response: “I think that’s a fair observation.”

    So to sum up, heaps of evidence suggests Insite saves lives, while the federal government has acknowledged before the Supreme Court of Canada that it hasn’t evidence to the contrary.

    From the moment the Conservatives came to power in 2006, they insisted that the decision on Insite’s future would not be guided by politics or ideology. The evidence would settle it. But as the evidence of Insite’s effectiveness steadily mounted, the Conservatives’ hostility to the facility never wavered. They wanted to close it then. They want to close it now.

    And so what we witnessed last week at the Supreme Court was nothing less than a naked admission that Stephen Harper’s government doesn’t give a damn about evidence.

    That would be alarming enough. But to fully appreciate how hideously the government is behaving, bear in mind two things: the origins of Insite and the nature of the drug policies Stephen Harper does support.

    Insite is an experiment born of endless failure. For years, even decades, the thick clot of social pathologies in Vancouver’s downtown eastside neighbourhood only grew. Police sweeps didn’t stop it. Neither did blockbuster trafficking busts, or the steady flow of money into social service agencies and countless publicly funded community groups.

    In those circumstances, doing more of the same is madness. You have to try something new.

    Insite was something new, and the idea behind it was simple and modest: Give addicts a safe, clean place to inject drugs and the damage can at least be minimized. With clean syringes, users won’t share dirty needles and spread blood-borne diseases. With a nurse present, overdoses won’t end in death. And when addicts come in off the street, social workers can engage them — and try to steer them to detox, rehab, and, just maybe, getting off drugs for good.

    It would be good for the community, too. Fewer needles in parks and playgrounds. Less hustling on the streets. Fewer corpses in back alleys.

    Or so it was hoped. Similar facilities in Europe — where the “harm reduction” philosophy is widely accepted — had delivered excellent results. But so many efforts had failed before. This had to be done carefully. It had to be monitored. And rigorously studied by scientists.

    It was. And the results are clear.

    This makes Insite a textbook example of how to do social policy. Try something new — but be cautious. Don’t assume you have the answer. Set up a small experiment. Study the results carefully. If it fails, shut it down. And if it succeeds? Obviously, you should keep it going. And cautiously expand it to other sites and cities, while continuing to carefully monitor results.

    Seems only reasonable, doesn’t it? But compare that to the drug policy Stephen Harper enthusiastically supports: more law enforcement and tougher punishment of drug crimes.

    In the 1950s, rising rates of heroin addiction in Vancouver (stop me if you’ve heard this one before) prompted a national debate about drug policy. Doctors and public health officials argued that law enforcement had failed badly. They wanted to try different approaches — approaches which we today would call harm reduction.

    The police disagreed, insisting that tougher laws would do the trick. They had little evidence to support that claim and they didn’t intend to study whether tough new laws actually did what they were supposed to. But they were sure they were right.

    As usual, the police got their way. Harsh new laws — including a seven-year mandatory minimum sentence for importing drugs — came into force in the early 1960s. A few years later, rates of drug consumption and trafficking soared.

    That pretty much sums up the long history of trying to deal with illicit drugs by ramping up law enforcement and punishment. In a paper published a few years ago, Peter Reuter, one of the world’s leading experts on drug policy, summarized the evidence: “Research has almost uniformly failed to show that intensified policing or sanctions have reduced either drug prevalence or drug-related harm.”

    No matter. Every year, huge sums are spent trying to deal with illicit drugs and the vast majority of that money goes to law enforcement.

    And Stephen Harper is fine with that. In fact, he wants more of the same. But that modest, inexpensive, rigorously studied, scientifically validated, life-saving program in Vancouver? He wants it closed.

    Which says so much about Stephen Harper.


    By Dan Gardner
    The Ottawa Citizen
    May 17, 2011
    http://www.ottawacitizen.com/opinion/drug+policy+works+Harper+wants+nothing+with/4797595/story.html



  10. Motorhead
    Re: DEVELOPING STORY: Canada’s high court to rule on safe-injection site

    Drug-injection clinic faces long wait for decision from Supreme Court

    Advocates anxiously awaiting a court ruling that will decide the future of Vancouver's supervised drug-injection site could be on tenterhooks for up to a year, legal experts say.

    "The court will probably not release its decision until late this year, and perhaps not until early 2012," a lawyer for the Canadian Nurses Association, which is an intervener in the case, said on Tuesday.

    Rahool Agarwal said given the case's complexity, the nine Supreme Court judges considering it will likely take their time.

    There is no route to appeal their decision, Agarwal said.

    Canada's top court is examinng two constitutional issues after arguments from both sides were heard May 12 in Ottawa.

    One is whether federal drug laws or provincial health-care interests should have power over Insite.

    The second is whether it would violate the Charter rights of drug users to stop providing the service.

    Insite has legally allowed addicts a clean and safe space to inject street drugs since 2003 under an exemption from the possession and trafficking laws.

    The Province
    May 18, 2011
    http://www.theprovince.com/Drug+inj...ecision+from+Supreme+Court/4801581/story.html

  11. kailey_elise
    Re: UPDATED: Canada’s high court to rule on safe-injection site

    So...basically...in the face of the statistics showing that some people are going to use drugs regardless of the legal consequences, he thinks we should just throw the addicts back on the street & let them die.

    Because...by saving their lives, we're just giving drug dealers more money.

    Wait wait...I know how to fix this problem!!! How about...legalize the sale & purchase of drugs - hell, we could even state they can ONLY use the Heroin at a place like Insite! Then the governmintz get the $$$ instead of the drug dealers, and the Heroin addicts that are brought back from death still are "in the system", so they have a place they can go where they already have a rapport with people that can help them get clean when they're ready?

    Nah, fuck 'em. Let them back on the street, so they can nod out in the gutter & drop their needle there for your kid to find & hell - if the filthy junkie doesn't OD on the spot, maybe he'll nod out in the middle of the road & die after he gets hit by a car.

    YES, and we DO need to try to address & solve the root cause of the problem...but closing places like Insite that save lives in so many more ways than just reviving OD'd addicts is NOT going to help. It starts with REAL, HONEST DRUG EDUCATION, it involves raising children properly with love, caring & compassion so maybe they won't feel that gaping hole in their soul in the first place that Heroin seemingly fills so well the first time you take it.

    ~Kailey
  12. Motorhead
    Insite clinic enables drug users and helps spread human misery

    Insite, in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside is the only “safe-injection site” (SIS) in North America where addicts can legally inject hard drugs under medical supervision. If the Supreme Court, now in deliberation, rules the federal government has no right to shut it down, Insite clones will spring up all over Canada.

    Insite is the brainchild of a concept called “Harm Reduction” (HR), supposedly one of four pillars in Canada’s National Anti-Drug Strategy. But because HR militants are also in favour of legalizing all drugs, the other pillars — prevention, treatment and enforcement — are of little interest to them.

    Supporters always speak of the numerous “studies” that show success for Insite. But how scientific are they? In a 2007 evidence-based critique of Insite, for example, Colin Maugham, Director of Research for the Drug Prevention Network of Canada, noted the most-cited studies’ lack of control groups, and concluded that Insite’s evaluations overstated its positive findings, and omitted or understated the negative findings. For example, while studies claim that Insite’s presence saves lives, the Government of British Columbia Selected Vital Statistics and Health Status Indicators states in its annual report that the number of deaths from drug overdose in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside has increased in most years since the site opened in 2003.

    Insite is often touted as the “compassionate” response to drug addiction by its promoters. Addiction enablement is not true compassion. True compassion is animated by the belief that people can change, that they have moral agency. Insite-type compassion is the soft bigotry of low expectations. It is politically correct timidity around “judging” (certain) uncontrolled human appetites. Curiously, sometimes the same “compassionate” romanticizers of drug addiction — call them the Addictionally Correct (AC) — have no problem judging smokers or the obese for their poor health choices.

    From the discourse of the AC, you would never know that it is actually quite difficult to become addicted to drugs like heroin. It takes months of steady usage. The AC have convinced themselves, too, that weaning oneself from a hard drug is nigh impossible. In fact, detoxing from heroin, according to those who supervise it, is no more stressful than a transient illness — and (unlike alcohol withdrawal, a far more pernicious addiction), nobody has ever died from heroin withdrawal. Motivation is all. Indeed many heroin addicts, like returning Vietnam soldiers, have withdrawn from heroin use without incident.

    Long-term rehab works, even in cases where addicts are forced into programs. A 2008 longitudinal study by Portage, since 1970 Canada’s foremost practitioner of the therapeutic-community approach to rehabilitation, found that 18 months after completion of rehab, the study cohort’s hallucinogen, amphetamine and cocaine use had decreased by a stunning 85% overall.

    Sidebar results, with significant implications for reduced burdens on the public purse, were equally impressive. Hospitalizations and contact with the justice system decreased by 86.8% and 92% respectively, while full-time employment increased by 55%.

    If safe injection sites (SISs) are so wonderful, then why have three dozen European cities, including Berlin, Stockholm, London and Oslo signed a declaration against SISs? Because they learned that SISs lead to increased drug use and crime. Sweden, for example, has had remarkable success with a program of compulsory drug treatment for addicts. As a result, Sweden’s rates for crime, disease, medical and social problems stemming from drug addiction are lower than other European countries.

    Almost nobody is beyond redemption from drug addiction, but you wouldn’t know it from the deep-throated baying for addiction enablement that dominates debate on the issue. And oh, the hypocrisy: There isn’t a single AC pundit in this country militating for Insite who would passively allow his or her own child to use their services. Each and every one of them would move Heaven and Earth to ensure that their loved ones got intervention and treatment. As retired Vancouver policeman Al Arsenault, who patrolled the “chemical gulag” of Downtown Eastside Vancouver for 27 years and who calls Insite an “abject and utter failure,” put it: “The rich get treatment, the poor get [Insite].”

    Nobody has ever died of an overdose at Insite, a key argument for its supporters. That is true, but so what? No depressed people would ever die from stepping off the Golden Gate Bridge if there were a safety net below it. The net would do nothing to solve the depression of those jumping into the net, or help the many thousands of others who continued to jump from other high places in plain sight of the net. It would only give the impression that society is “doing something” to reduce the harm.

    Just like Insite. Yes, 1,400 people use it, but Insite does not protect them from the health risks of direct-to-vein injection. They don’t die from a sudden overdose, but they do die from their behaviour. There are better ways than Insite to spend public money. It is puzzling and rather shameful that the federal government has not found its tongue in making its own case on this file.

    Barbara Kay
    The National Post
    May 18, 2011
    http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com...les-drug-users-and-helps-spread-human-misery/
  13. Motorhead
    No matter what, Insite will survive: supporters

    On May 12, the Supreme Court heard arguments for and against the continued operation of Insite, and supporters of the supervised injection site are anxiously awaiting the decision, one that will likely take weeks to arrive. But Donald MacPherson is optimistic, saying that this is a time for reflecting on the successes in harm reduction since Insite opened in 2003.

    MacPherson moderated a May 17 public forum hosted by the Pivot Legal Society on health, harm reduction and the law. He calls the current dialogue around Insite "a time for educating, and a time for celebrating."

    "I see it as a watershed moment for Canadian drug policy. I think [the forum] can use this moment, the Supreme Court Case, as a punctuation mark: the end of one era of drug policy, with a big question mark regarding where we are going as a country.”

    Insite has been permitted to operate for the past eight years under an exemption from the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. The deciding factor in the case will be whether it is under provincial jurisdiction as a health facility, or federal jurisdiction as a facility for illegal drug use.

    “They have to consider where the impact will be,” says MacPherson, paraphrasing a point made in the trial. “If Insite is allowed to stay open, it has absolutely no impact on weakening the Substances Act. It’s just one room, in one city, where people are allowed to inject without getting arrested. But if you shut it down, it has a devastating impact on a provincially-funded part of their health care.”

    Prime Minister Stephen Harper was clear about his stance on Insite in 2005, when he said, “We as a government will not use taxpayers' money to fund drug use.” Darwin Fisher, intake manager at Insite, says the focus needs to be on the health needs of Insite users. “It’s just wrong to say that Insite is supporting drug use. No one here supports drug use. We support people.”

    Fisher recalls the years before Insite as a “decade of horror,” with skyrocketing mortality and HIV rates. He says no matter what, "the rights of people will be protected. The community will not stand for the removal of hope for drug users. And the citizens’ level of commitment to this service and their community will not be affected by a government edict.”

    “Anyone who’s been down here for more than ten years has racked up thousands of people that they know that are now dead," says Ann Livingston, executive director of the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users. "I think there’s a passion, a legacy, that people are committed to leading, that that won’t happen again.”

    Fisher is decisive that Insite will continue in one way or another, regardless of the decision. “It’s impossible to predict what will happen after the trial. We don’t have a fall-back plan. But we’re confident that what’s right will prevail.”

    Livingston thinks Supreme Court decision will favour Insite's continued operation. “I think that there’s tremendous optimism that we’ll win again. Remember, we’ve already won twice. So it doesn’t seem likely that we’ll lose.”

    MacPherson is also hopeful, saying, “I’m heartened by many of the comments made in the trial so far. They get that it works. I just can’t imagine the Supreme Court coming down with a blunt decision that forces Insite to close.”

    If the court rules that supervised injection sites are health facilities, then more facilities can open in Vancouver, as well as other provinces in Canada.

    “When you’re down here every day,” says Livingston, “you really become aware of how inadequate one facility is. When you have 15,000 injections a day, and only 600 of them can take place in a supervised setting, it’s not enough.”

    Looking ahead, there is hope that the decision will expand the focus of the drug policy debate past Insite, which is only a small piece of harm reduction and drug use. “We see that there is a need for a national dialogue on drug policy,” says MacPherson.

    “Insite has served us very well in leading that dialogue, in a way- it generates a lot of discussion, because it’s such a concrete example. But we need to have a much fuller discussion about drugs in society.”

    Livingston feels the next step in advocacy is removing the shame around addiction. “Families affected by addiction have nowhere to talk about it. It’s a wound. If you have a child who becomes a street-entrenched drug addict, the attitude is that you must have been a bad parent. The families are silenced.”

    She points to education as the way forward. “People need to understand what’s wrong with drugs being illegal, what’s wrong with not having safe injection sites. And when the public is well-informed, they will lead the politicians to the next decision.”

    Fisher also believes in the necessity of community-driven change to drug policy. “Grassroots advocacy is what created Insite in the first place. It is always the force that generates change. And it’s how we will respond if Harper exercises what little power he has and tries to shut Insite down.”

    Michelle Reid
    Open File
    May 18, 2011
    http://vancouver.openfile.ca/vancouver/file/2011/05/no-matter-what-insite-will-survive-supporters
  14. Motorhead
    I have uploaded a good video about Insite Here in the file archive.

    Also, this video already in the archive from CBC is a few years old, but it gives some more background on the subject.

    I have also uploaded the Kaiser Foundation's report, Supervised Injection Sites, to the documents library. It gives some quick concise info about SIS's.
  15. Balzafire
    David Berry: Insite’s success causes problems for morality-based opposition

    [imgl=white]https://www.drugs-forum.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=20258&stc=1&d=1305776350[/imgl]Before the Supreme Court case to decide Insite’s future began, government lawyers requested that the court ignore the piles of evidence that suggest the inexplicably embattled facility does exactly what it purports to do: reduce overdoses, stop the spread of disease, encourage rehabilitation — you know, generally just save lives.

    A day into the proceedings, we quickly learned why the government’s lawyers would make such a request: They had no way to respond. Justice Louis LeBel stated it outright to government lawyer Paul Riley: “In the end, this program somehow, while not being perfect, works. Have you got anything that tends to demonstrate that this program doesn’t work?” Riley’s only reply? “I think that’s a fair observation.”

    Which brings us back to the question of why this trial is taking place at all. Since it refused to grant an extension to Insite’s exemption three years ago, the government has had plenty of time to back up its moralistic bleating with any kind of practical argument to support its position. That they’ve evidently decided to go with furrowed brows and grade-school reminders that drugs are bad — in the highest court of the land, by the way — suggests that they’re in the wrong on this one.

    It is no surprise that a harm-reduction facility such as Insite would be controversial, and worthy of a public discussion. The fact is that it is providing government-funded care and compassion to a section of society that, even if they are now in the grips of a disease, have made some obviously bad choices somewhere along the line. I personally think that the Insite harm-reduction model represents enlightened policy; but I can understand the argument that these people should be left to sleep in the bed they made, even if it’s in an alley next to a dirty needle.

    But it’s also a mistake to assume — as Barbara Kay does — that “compassion” is Insite’s reason for being, let alone its sole purpose.

    Insite, and harm reduction more generally, is about pragmatically dealing with some of society’s unfortunate realities. Despite the fact that society has rightly deemed some substances too dangerous to condone, people use them, and so far no amount of law enforcement, family encouragement or other external pressure has eliminated that reality.

    It is obvious that the ultimate goal of any drug program should be the elimination of its use: That’s why Insite has a drug-rehabilitation clinic onsite (it’s even conveniently called OnSite) that admitted 458 people last year, and made 5,268 referrals of its 12,236 unique visitors to social and health services, most for detox and addiction treatment. While we wait for the others to clean up, though, it is just good sense to try and minimize the harm they’re doing to themselves and others.

    Because, make no mistake, Insite helps the rest of us as much as it does the addicts who come through its doors. Besides the widely reported 35% drop in overdoses in its vicinity, Insite has also been shown to reduce HIV transmission, by as many as 35 cases a year, which is no small savings to our health-care system: The International Journal of Drug Policy finds that, once you factor in Insite’s whopping $3-million yearly operating budget, the cost-benefit ratio in just this instance is 1 to 5.12. Factor in the people who Insite has referred to long-term rehabilitation — people who, for the most part, either lack the money or the good example to get there on their own — and the ratio no doubt improves.

    No study has found that Insite encourages drug use: Presumably, a room full of junkies desperately seeking a hit isn’t exactly an inspirational poster. But it’s reasonable to worry that an expanded mandate might change that. That’s a worthwhile discussion to have, at least. On the other hand, clinging to a misguided morality and stubbornly challenging Insite’s right to exist, after it has proven again and again since its 2003 founding that it works, is not.

    Any walk around Insite’s Downtown Eastside Vancouver location will show you the ill effects of drug use: They can wreck lives as easily as communities. But we can’t forget that it’s those ill effects, and not drug use intrinsically, that is the reason for society’s stand against them. It is worthless to remain high-minded when that position only helps exacerbate the problems we’re supposed to be against. At some point, we have to look beyond our noses, not just down them.


    David Berry
    May 17, 2011
    http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com...auses-problems-for-morality-based-opposition/
  16. jon-q
    [imgr=white]https://www.drugs-forum.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=22556&stc=1&d=1317394022[/imgr] Vancouver's supervised-injection site exempt from drug laws: top court

    OTTAWA — Vancouver's controversial supervised-injection site should be exempt from federal drug laws, the country's top court has ruled.

    A large crowd in Vancouver was cheering, hugging and celebrating on the street after the decision was announced Friday morning.

    The Supreme Court of Canada ruling on Insite could pave the way for similar facilities to spring up around the country.

    The ruling, a unanimous decision, ordered an immediate exemption, with no deadline, allowing the facility to remain open.

    The decision put the provincial responsibility to promote and provide health care ahead of the federal government's right to enforce drug laws — the key question put to the court in the case.

    Insite provides a haven for addicts to inject drugs using sterile needles under a nurse's supervision.

    The fate of the supervised-injection site had been muddied ever since 2008, when the Conservative federal government refused to renew a Health Canada exemption that had permitted the facility to operate in contravention of criminal drug laws.

    The Tories, including former health minister Tony Clement, have said that the facility and similar "harm-reduction" programs divert money from addiction-treatment programs.

    Mounds of research support the benefits of eight-year-old Insite. Research has shown the site reduces the number of drug-related deaths in the area, and research into supervised-injection sites show they contain the spread of HIV/AIDS, reduce public disorder in the surrounding areas and help addicts enter detox and other treatment programs.

    The ruling is the third to go against the federal government over Insite.

    Preparing for this decision, the Justice Department had previously asked the court to suspend the ruling for one year to give Ottawa time to regroup.




    Evan Duggan
    Vancouver Sun 30th Sept 2011
    http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Va...xempt+from+drug+laws+court/5482750/story.html
  17. catseye
    For anyone who isn't familiar with Insite and what they do, I highly recommend watching the documentary that aired on the Canadian television programme 5th State called "Staying Alive"...it really is very informative and moving.
    http://www.cbc.ca/fifth/2008-2009/staying_alive/ (I realise links go dead and whatnot but I couldn't find a torrent for the video)

    This really is fantastic news that the courts continue to support Insite...I can only hope other places take courage from it and follow suit.
  18. jejune
    The Supreme Court of Canada has ordered the federal Health Minister to keep Insite, a safe site for injection drug users in Vancouver, BC, alive. The federal government had attempted to close the facility some years ago. The court concluded that since Insite had irrefutably saved lives and improved the health of drug users, to close it was a violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Canada's highest law.

    In his 1975 survey of the evolution of attitudes and laws towards drug use in the US, Alexander "Sasha" Shulgin describes a period in the 1950s when some states made "addiction" itself a crime. Fortunately, he writes, in 1962 the Supreme Court ruled that imprisonment merely for being an addict was cruel and unusual punishment. Sasha ends with a quotation from "Licit and Illicit Drugs" by E.M. Brecher: "There is little likelihood that further tinkering with the laws will prove more successful than the hundreds of such laws already on the hooks. Legislators who trust in such measures are failing to face the facts."

    There appears to be no shortage of legislators, in either country, who fail to face the facts.
  19. catseye
    Quebec Safe Injection Sites Get Green Light

    First Posted: 10/11/11 05:44 PM ET Updated: 10/11/11 06:45 PM ET
    The Canadian Press

    QUEBEC - The Quebec government is giving the green light to new safe injection sites for addicts to shoot up under supervision.

    Health Minister Yves Bolduc says he supports the recent Supreme Court of Canada decision to keep the Insite safe injection clinic open in Vancouver.

    Bolduc says the ruling removed the last hurdle preventing Quebec from opening similar government-supported centres.

    The province is accepting proposals for safe injection sites — which could open their doors in the coming months in Montreal and Quebec City.

    Two organizations have already expressed interest in opening such clinics.

    In its decision, the Supreme Court ordered the Conservative government to abandon its effort to close Vancouver's Insite clinic.

    The high court also ruled that exemptions must be put in place to protect staff from prosecution for drug possession or trafficking.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2011/10/11/quebec-safe-injection-sites_n_1005928.html

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