Scientists, lawyers, police, social workers, doctors and directors of public prosecution are pleading for change but no political party will touch the issue in Australia. Public debate on the subject remains as primitive as ever. After all these years we are still dealing with the basics – over and over again. That's no accident. It's what moral panic driven by some media does.
Greece has set up its first "drug consumption" room to contain a surge of infectious diseases among drug addicts in the crisis-hit country, Greece's Organization Against Drugs, OKANA, said. Following similar projects in Western Europe, Canada and Australia, the centre Odysseas lets users inject drugs they bring themselves, under medical supervision, and has been visited by more than 200 addicts since it was set up in October.
Lynne Leonard, Emily DeRubeis, Linda Pelude, Emily Medd, Nick Birkett, Joyce Seto
30 April 2007
Among injection drug users (IDUs) in Ottawa, the capital of Canada, prevalence rates of HIV (20.6 percent) and hepatitis C HCV (75.8 percent) are among the highest in Canada. Recent research evidence suggests the potential for HCV and HIV transmission through the multi-person use of crack-smoking implements. On the basis of this scientific evidence, in April 2005, Ottawa's needle exchange programme (NEP) commenced distributing glass stems, rubber mouthpieces, brass screens, chopsticks, lip balm and chewing gum to reduce the harms associated with smoking crack.
In a surprise ruling yesterday, the British Colombia Supreme Court supported Vancouver's experimental supervised injection clinic Insite - North America's first legal supervised injection site - and halted federal attempts to close the facility. That is very good news, but the ruling went even further.
In September 2012, the mayor of Bogotá, Gustavo Petro, launched the first centre for drug addicts in the Bronx, a marginalised city-centre neighbourhood. Called the Medical Care Centre for Dependent Drug Users (Centro de Atención Médica a Drogodependientes - CAMAD), it is staffed by psychiatrists, psychologists, doctors and nurses. The people given care in these centres are in an at-risk situation and socially excluded due to their high levels of drug dependency.
The drug injection rooms ('fixerum') that opened for customers some two and a half years ago in Denmark have been hailed as a resounding success. Out of the 355,255 injections that have taken place in the rooms in Copenhagen, Odense and Aarhus since they opened in 2012, some 301 people have overdosed but not one single death has been reported. "It must be assumed that the hygienic surroundings and the qualified personnel have had a great impact in the injection rooms," the Ministry of Health found in an evaluation (here in Danish).
Drug users in France will soon have a state-sanctioned place where they can use heroin, crack and other intravenous drugs, after the government approved a pilot site in Paris. The City Council had already voted to allow a secure injection site to be opened in the city, a controversial measure, which social workers say should help to reduce the number of drug users in the streets.
About two decades after the U.S. emerged from the worst of its own crack epidemic, Brazilian authorities are watching the cheap drug spread across this country of 190 million people. They have far fewer resources to deal with it, despite a booming economy that expanded 7.5 percent last year. Walter Maierovitch, a former drug czar, proposes programs that offer adults health services and a safe place to use drugs. "Insisting on programs that demand abstinence doesn't work," he said.
Colombia's chief public prosecutor has called for a referendum on whether to legalise drug consumption, in response to plans to set up a network of public centres where users can consume illicit drugs under supervision. The so-called “controlled consumption centres” are part of a drive by Gustavo Petro, the mayor of the capital, Bogotá, to reduce drug-related crime in the city.
Daniel Vaillant (PS), a suggéré de réfléchir à la création d’une salle de consommation de crack, une fois que la «salle de shoot» de la gare du Nord aura été mise en place. «Je pense qu’il faut d’abord mettre sur pied la salle de consommation à moindre risque du côté de la gare du Nord. Mais il conviendrait de réfléchir avec les praticiens à l’ouverture d’une salle pour les consommateurs de crack, sous forme expérimentale», a déclaré l’ancien ministre de l’Intérieur à l’AFP.
The Irish public is being invited to have a say in what is thought to be the country’s first official examination of the decriminalisation of drugs for personal use. The Justice Committee is seeking submissions from people and organisations on alternatives to the current model of criminalisation. It comes on the back of a committee trip to Portugal, where a delegation studied its model of decriminalisation of the possession of drugs.
French officials across the political spectrum have expressed support for "shooting galleries", where addicts could use drugs under medical supervision. Such centres exist in several other European countries. The debate over "shooting galleries" started in the headquarters of an anti-addiction association located in the Belleville neighbourhood of Paris. In May 2009, the association, called ASUD (Self-support and Risk Reduction among Drug Users) opened a centre in which addicts could use drugs under medical supervision.
France’s health minister, Marisol Touraine, has said trial centres where drug addicts can safely inject their own drugs with sterile needles provided by medical professionals could open before the end of the year in a handful of French cities. “I hope that experimental trials will be announced before the end of the year,” Touraine told French BFM television, adding that a handful of cities were ready to test the new program.
Drug users in Paris will be able to inject themselves in a secure and monitored environment after a site near the city’s busy Gare du Nord was agreed by the city authorities. The drug consumption room would be open “by the autumn” and, once functioning, will provide free needles to drug users in a sterile environment monitored by healthcare professionals. The project is aimed at reducing the number of people taking drugs in the street, in common areas of apartment buildings and other areas such as car parks.
As a senior police official in northern England calls for safe rooms for the injection of hard drugs, attention has focused on similar projects around Europe. They point to an experiment in Copenhagen, which Danish police say has saved lives and helped clean up drug-ridden districts. Addicts bring their own drugs, which remain illegal in Denmark, but police in this neighbourhood, Vesterbro, no longer prosecute them for possession.
Brighton is set to be the first British city to offer official "drug consumption rooms" where addicts can use heroin, crack and cocaine under supervision without fear of prosecution. The city's public health leaders will "give serious consideration" to the plan in order to save lives. A report published from an independent drugs commission led by the crime author Peter James and Mike Trace, a former UK deputy drugs tsar, is expected to say that drug consumption rooms "significantly reduce overdose death rates" and do not encourage further use.
BBC Mundo reports that Bogotá is planning a system of "controlled consumption centers," where addicts could be weaned off more hard-core drugs, such as heroin or crack (bazuco), and slowly introduced to pot. Because of its continued prevalence, as well as its toxicity, bazuco will be one of the drugs targeted by Mayor Gustavo Petro's planned treatment centers. The treatment centers are part of a larger movement in Colombia to classify drug addiction as an issue of public health rather than crime.
Il faut changer la loi de 1970 pénalisant l’usage de cannabis : c’est ce que préconisent deux députés, auteurs d’un rapport sur les drogues illicites dans lequel ils actent l’échec de la politique de prohibition, suivie depuis quatre décennies. Mais ils divergent sur la conduite à tenir : pour l’UMP Laurent Marcangeli (Corse-du-Sud), il convient de punir l’usage d’une simple contravention. Pour la PS Anne-Yvonne Le Dain, une légalisation s’impose dans l’espace privé, avec «une offre réglementée du produit sous le contrôle de l’Etat». (Cannabis : une contravention pour les consommateurs ?)
Since the launch of the room, the quantity of drug paraphernalia collected from gutters, playgrounds, stairwells and doorways in the area has halved. Vesterbro also appears to be a place where the desperate are seemingly becoming a little less desperate. Burglaries in the wider area are down by about 3%, theft from vehicles and violence down about 5%, and possession of weapons also down. "From the police perspective, I can see the benefits," says Superintendent Henrik Orye. "It feels calmer."