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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
The Norwegian government it wants to decriminalise the inhalation of heroin, a method considered less dangerous than injecting it, to reduce the number of overdoses in the country. The move would make smoking heroin an offense on par with injecting, which is illegal in Norway but tolerated. Oslo's municipality operates a site where heroin addicts can inject drugs under safer, more hygienic circumstances.
Staff at Copenhagen’s first legal drug injection room have saved 30 lives since it opened last autumn, according to metroXpress newspaper.The deputy mayor for social affairs, Mikkel Warming (Enhedslisten), contends that the success of the injection room should be expanded across the city. The deputy mayor, however, is not likely to get the Konservative party to support the move. Konservative's legal spokesperson, Tom Behnke would rather introduce prescription heroin and increase efforts to rehabilitate addicts.
The personal use of illegal drugs, including heroin and crack cocaine, should be decriminalized as part of a federal-provincial strategy to tackle drug abuse, the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition argues. Their report, Getting To Tomorrow, denounces the Harper government’s aggressive war on drugs, which puts the emphasis on law enforcement while steering money away from harm-reduction initiatives like Vancouver’s supervised injection site. (See also: Call to legalize 'hard' drugs meets opposition)
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.
"It is encouraging that we have been able to achieve a drop in numbers in an area where Denmark’s figures are otherwise too high," says Health Minister Astrid Krag. Fixing rooms are said to be one of the main reasons. The number of drug-related deaths has been relatively constant since the mid-1990s, but the 2012 figures – 210 deaths of which 76 per cent are men and 24 per cent women – is a noticeable drop.
Peter Sarosi, Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU)
16 January 2013
Last year the HCLU’s video advocacy group travelled to Vancouver, to make a film about Insite, the only legally-operating injecting facility in North America. When we arrived at Hastings Street, in Vancouver's downtown Eastside, where Insite is located, we were taken aback by the magnitude of the street drug scene we found there.
The thirty-five year fight to establish permanent injection rooms for drug addicts is now over after the government announced last week that such facilities would be up and running by 2013. But long-time campaigners are bracing themselves for news on the guidelines for how the rooms are to be run. The government will present a catalogue outlining the current drug legislation and amendments that will need to be made in order for injection rooms to become legal.
The injection room for drug users that opened in Vesterbro last October has been such a success that the City Council is considering opening three more in other parts of Copenhagen. It took Vesterbro residents 20 years to convince the government to allow the city to open a facility where injecting drug users can take their drugs off the streets and take them under the supervision of health workers.
A legal, city-funded center where intravenous drug users can get needles and shoot up without consequence is on the agenda in San Francisco. The idea comes from the city's Hepatitis C Task Force, created by then-Mayor Gavin Newsom in 2009 in response to growing concern over the 12,000 San Francisco residents infected by the disease, most of whom have no idea of their status. Opening the nation's first legal injection drug center garnered unanimous support by the task force.
Some obstacles remain before the injection room, which may cost as much as 18 million kroner to set up, can become a reality - including an expected law change that will decriminalise the taking of drugs in the facility. "It will sadly take over a year to establish the injection room in Mændenes Hjem," Warming said. "That is why we have created the temporary injection room in the health centre."
On Monday September 12 Denmark’s first mobile injection room made its maiden voyage, driving from Victoriagade to Reventlowsgade behind Central Station. The room is actually an outdated German ambulance that has room for three intravenous drug addicts, and a doctor and a nurse who can give first aid or other medical assistance. The introduction of the mobile injection rooms draws to a close 35 years of pointless drugs policies in Vesterbro.
The new president of France, François Hollande, is not likely to change cannabis policies. His choice as Minister of the Interior, Manuel Valls, is a declared opponent to any reform on cannabis. During the election campaign, Hollande already opposed the proposal to convert the criminal offence of cannabis use into misdemeanour, put forward by his security adviser and mayor of Dijon, François Rebsamen. Hollande did not want to “give any signal foregoing a deterrent against the use of cannabis."
The film crew of the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU) attended the first meeting of the European Harm Reduction Network (EuroHRN) in Marseille, France. We interviewed professionals and activists from several countries to give you an overview of the current state of harm reduction in Europe – please watch and share our movie!