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.
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).
Luxembourg's Parliament is to debate the decriminalisation of consumption of cannabis, the health minister said while outlining a new drug prevention programme. The minister said she hoped to raise awareness among young people of the risks surrounding cannabis consumption as well as the use of other, legal drugs, such as alcohol and tobacco.
Drugs Minister Aodhan O'Riordain from Ireland has said he wants to see legislation introducing injection centres for addicts before the next election. The newly-appointment minister says he wants to see people who inject heroin in alleyways and apartment block stairwells provided with a safe, medically supervised location. O'Riordain replied by saying "legislation will be this year" as he still has "some convincing to do". "I have a short time to deliver these things, nine months max before the next general election."
In 2008, Harm Reduction International released the Global State of Harm Reduction, a report that mapped responses to drug-related HIV and hepatitis C epidemics around the world for the first time.(1) The data gathered for the report provided a critical baseline against which progress could be measured in terms of the international, regional and national recognition of harm reduction in policy and practice. Since then, the biennial report has become a key publication for researchers, policymakers, civil society organisations and advocates, mapping harm reduction policy adoption and programme implementation globally.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s statement about the failures of Canada's drug policy is mostly on point. It’s just the last bit he gets wrong: “I think what everyone believes and agrees with, and to be frank myself, is that the current approach is not working, but it is not clear what we should do.” He’s wrong, because we know what we should do: Supervised injection sites; prescription heroin; medical cannabis dispensaries; crack pipe distribution; drug testing kits; Naloxone for reversing opioid overdose.
For three years, the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users’ (VANDU) operated an unsanctioned, peer-run “safer smoking room” for crack users in a small ventilated washroom in its Downtown Eastside facility. It protected crack users from violence, connected them with health care services, kept them away from public spaces and prevented the spread of disease from pipe-sharing, according to the authors of a recently-published study titled “We need somewhere to smoke crack.”
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 ?)
"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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.