Free heroin planned for 2nd Vancouver injection site

Free heroin planned for 2nd Vancouver injection site – Comments

VANCOUVER — Vancouver may have a second drug injection sit but with a difference. If it gets the go ahead from the City and Health Canada, it will supply free heroin for injection purposes.

Discussions are being held with the residents of Downtown Eastside, Canada’s largest and densest concentraction of drug users. The city is considering an appliction for rezoning for a new clinic in their neighbourhood.

As part of a national experiment the facility would provide free heroin. The aim is to find out whether making the drug available through prescription improves the health of injection-drug users, reduces homelessness and cuts crime. The clientle would come to a high-security clinic up to three times a day, seven days a week, for heroin prescribed by a physician. They would use the drug under supervision at the clinic.

The plan is to provide heroin to 88 addicts and methadone to 70. After 12 months, the researchers intend to shift the addicts to methadone or abstinence.

The clinic does not yet have Health Canada approval to open the heroin clinic. The survey of community opinion is one of the final stages in a lengthy two-year process to Obtain approval.

Many residents, community groups and businesses welcome the clinic in the neighbourhood because it is expected to reduce criminal activity and take drug addiction off the streets. The site chosen is controversial–across the street from a day care centre and near a public school.

A safe injection site for heroin and cocaine users was opened last month on the same street, but seven blocks down the road. The users supply their own drugs and clean equipment and the clinic provides the safe environment to use drugs.

The clinic still has to receive licences to import the drug. Forty five legal heroin clinics operate worldwide in Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Spain. Recently, a new one opened in Sydney, Australia.

Last minute: an announcement from the Centre for Addictions and and mental health indicates this project is to be carried in Toronto and Vancouver. Because it did not have final approval, the project was kept under wraps.

COPYRIGHT 2003 Community Action Publishers

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