Newsbrief: British Drug Policy Think Tank Says Government Abandoned Planned Heroin Maintenance Expansion 9/24/04

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In 2002, British Home Secretary David Blunkett announced that the number of licenses granted to doctors to prescribe heroin should be increased from fewer than 50 to more than 1,500, to remove the supply of the drug from the black market. But two years later, the National Treatment Agency, the government body responsible for dealing with addiction, has reported that instead of increasing 30-fold as Blunkett suggested, the number of doctors with heroin maintenance prescribing licenses has only doubled, to 123.

"These figures are disappointing," Natasha Vromen, a spokesperson for the drug policy think tank Drugscope (http://www.drugscope.org.uk) told the British newspaper the Observer. "There were great hopes that the government and doctors were developing a drugs policy where the health aspects were brought to the fore. Unfortunately, it is now dominated by the crime agenda."

Ironically, Blunkett initially called for a massive expansion of heroin prescribing after a Home Affairs Select Committee found that Britain's 250,000 heroin addicts were fueling crime at a rate of $11 billion a year. The committee also called for safe injection sites for drug users, but that idea has faded as well in the face of strong local opposition (https://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle-old/238/homeaffairs.shtml).

According to Drugscope's Vroman, a mass murdering physician helped derail the plan to expand the number of doctors prescribing maintenance heroin. Dr. Harold Shipman was convicted in 2000 of killing 215 patients using heroin, or diamorphine, as it is known in British medical parlance. While Shipman's trial was four years ago, inquiries into the case have continued. In a report issued just two months ago, Dame Janet Smith, who is leading the inquiry, called for stricter controls on heroin to avoid the sort of stockpiling that allowed Shipman to amass his killer supply.

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Issue #355, 9/24/04 Editorial: The Moral Choice is Clear | With New Sentencing Legislation Pending in Congress, Church Leaders Urge an End to Mandatory Minimums | Patients, Doctors, Supporters Head to Washington to Demand Rescheduling of Marijuana as a Medicine | For Second Year, John W. Perry Fund Helps Students with Drug Convictions Afford College | DRCNet Interview: Michael Badnarik, Libertarian Party Presidential Candidate | DRCNet Book Review: "Patients in The Crossfire: Casualties in The War On Medical Marijuana," by Americans For Safe Access | Action Alert: Still Time to Contact Judiciary Committee Members About HEA Drug Provision | Newsbrief: Schwarzenegger Signs Syringe Access Bill, Vetoes NEP Bill | Newsbrief: Schwarzenegger Vetoes Bill Barring High School Drug Testing | Newsbrief: New Jersey Needle Exchange Bill on Fast Track, Passes First Hurdle | Newsbrief: Former Child Actor Macauley Culkin Busted for Drugs in All-Too-Typical Cave-In to Police Search Request | Newsbrief: Montel Williams Show Brings Medical Marijuana Issue to the Masses | Newsbrief: Bush Warns of Canada Drug Threat, Whistles Past Afghan Opium Fields | Newsbrief: Guatemala Seeks More Anti-Drug Money from United States | Newsbrief: Decades of Colombian Drug War Brings... New, More Efficient Drug Organizations | Newsbrief: Narc Hates Free Publicity | Newsbrief: This Week's Corrupt Cops Story | Newsbrief: British Drug Policy Think Tank Says Government Abandoned Planned Heroin Maintenance Expansion | This Week in History | The Reformer's Calendar

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