With Injection Sites, Canadian Drug Policy Seeks a Fix
(Washington Post, 2 Aug 2003, A1)
Veenstra, 40, is in a clinic at the Dr. Peter Centre, where junkies who test positive for HIV can shoot up safely under supervision. This is one of the first of what are called "safe injection sites" in North America. Soon to be sanctioned by the provincial and federal governments, it is an example of a new policy in Canada, known as harm reduction, to address a pervasive drug problem plaguing Vancouver and other major cities.
Throughout the country, officials are considering radical changes in Canada's approach to drugs, rejecting the tendency in the United States to push for law enforcement solutions. In so doing, officials are taking up the stance of several other countries, including Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Australia, where there are various programs for decriminalization, clean needles and free methadone clinics.
The Vancouver-based Harm Reduction Action Society, which advocates changes in drug laws, reported that drug overdoses in Frankfurt, Germany, decreased from 147 in 1991 to 26 in 1997 with the creation of safe injection sites. In Switzerland, the organization said, drug overdoses also decreased, and there was a marked increase in the number of people registering for methadone and other treatment programs.
U.S. officials have angrily criticized the Canadian policy of harm reduction.
also: Whoa! Canada! Legal Marijuana. Gay Marriage. Peace. What the Heck's Going On Up North, Eh?
(Washington Post, 1 July 2003, p C 01)