Germany Takes Next Step: Heroin Maintenance Trial to Start in February 8/31/01

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The German government deepened its ambivalent embrace of harm reduction approaches to that nation's hard drug problem last week. According to the Associated Press, on August 22, German authorities signed on to a test project that will distribute heroin to hundreds of hardcore heroin users. According to German government estimates, there are about 120,000 addicted heroin users in the country.

This is only the latest step in Germany's evolving approach to hard drug use. Local authorities in a number of German cities, most notably Frankfort, had for years tolerated safe injection rooms as a means of reducing injection-related harm. Early last year, the Bundestag moved to formalize and legalize the safe-injection rooms. That move came after a Social Democrat-Green coalition took power from the conservatives, who had refused throughout the 1980s and 1990s to legalize the rooms.

In the program, which will include psychological counseling, half of the 1,220 participating heroin users will receive heroin. The other half will receive methadone. The program will last two years and will extend across the country.

German Drugs Commissioner Marion Caspers-Merk told the AP the program would attempt to reach heroin users who had been left out of previous programs. Earlier this year, Caspers-Merk told the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction that 50% of German heroin addicts were receiving drug treatment.

Authorities hope to improve the health of heroin users and also curb the crime associated with the illegal drug trade, Dr. Ingo Flenker told the AP. Flenker, head of the German doctors' association committee on drugs and addiction, added that authorities had not yet determined a price tag for the project.

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Issue #201, 8/31/01 Editorial: The Big Bully | Plan Colombia Sparks Legalization Groundswell as US Weighs Formal Intervention in Guerrilla War | Justice Department Reports One in 32 Americans Under Correctional Supervision | DRCNet Interview: Kenny "The Real" Kramer of Seinfeld Fame, Libertarian Candidate for Mayor of New York City | Fight For Your Right to Wave Glow Sticks: ACLU Wins Victory in New Orleans Rave Case | Germany Takes Next Step: Heroin Maintenance Trial to Start in February | Poll Finds Support for Marijuana Legalization at Record Level, Though Still a Minority View | US Drug Reformers Head to UN Racism Conference, Letter Asks Secretary General Annan to Put Drug War on Agenda | UN Conventions Need Not Pose Obstacle to Drug Law Reform, European Study Says | Canada's Conservative Fraser Institute Declares Drug War Lost | T-shirts for Victory! Special Offer and Appeal from DRCNet This Month | Action Alerts: Ecstasy Bill, HEA, Mandatory Minimums, Medical Marijuana, John Walters | HEA Campaign Still Seeking Student Victim Cases -- New York Metropolitan Area Especially Urgent | The Reformer's Calendar
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