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Safer Injection Sites

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Injection Site Hasn't Led to Crime, Study Finds

Localização: 
United States
Publication/Source: 
Toronto Globe & Mail
URL: 
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/LAC.20061121.BCINJECTION21/TPStory/?query=injection

Tories Blocked Needle Sites Despite Internal Poll Results; 56% of Canadians in Favor of More Injection Facilities

Localização: 
Canada
Publication/Source: 
Ottawa Citizen
URL: 
http://www.canada.com/ottawacitizen/news/story.html?id=895edc98-b99e-4bba-bd60-050972142ba3

Europe: Portugal Approves Safe Injection Sites, Moves to Start Prison Needle Exchange Programs

In an embrace of harm reduction principles, the Portuguese government has approved the establishment of safe injection sites for drug users and is working to have needle exchange programs in prisons by 2008, Medical News Today reported on August 30. The moves come as part of a package of measures designed to "reduce the consumption of drugs and diminish their harmful social and health effects," the Portuguese government said.

Portugal now follows the lead of Australia, Canada, Germany, and Switzerland, where working safe injection sites are in place. The sites have been shown to help slow the spread of diseases like hepatitis C and HIV/AIDS, reduce overdoses, reduce criminality, help drug users achieve more stable lives, and help some of them connect with treatment and/or counseling services.

While, according to the European Monitoring Center on Drugs and Drug Abuse, Portugal's drug use rates are low by European standards, the country does have an injection drug-using population, mostly around heroin. About one-third of a sample of treatment patients in Portugal reported drug injection as their preferred route of administration.

Portugal decriminalized drug possession in 2000, although drug sales remain illegal. But even if Portugal is not ready to take the giant step of ending drug prohibition, the actions of its government since then show that it continues to move in a progressive direction on drug policy issues.

Report from the National New Democratic Party Convention in Quebec

Report from DANA LARSEN President, eNDProhibition The unofficial anti-prohibition wing of Canada's NDP. http://www.endprohibition.ca MY EXPERIENCES AT THE NDP CONVENTION I came to the federal NDP Convention in Quebec, to promote our organization, eNDProhibition, NDP against the drug war. We had a group of 8 delegates who came to the convention specifically to support eNDProhibition, work our two tables and promote our marijuana and drug policy resolutions. Preparing for the convention had been frustrating. I had intended on buying a full-page ad in the convention guide, but no-one ever responded to the ad purchase form I Xpressposted to their office, nor the many phone messages and emails I left over a six-week period. However, they did get back to me about the two tables for us to promote our group, and when we got to the convention we did indeed have the promised space reserved for us. The display tables were in a smaller room away from the main convention hall, and when it turned out that we needed more electrical outlets the fellow came promptly and installed them very quickly and professionally. RESOLUTIONS AND DEBATES A key to any convention is the priority given to the resolutions. Every convention receives hundreds of resolutions, and there will only be time to actually debate and confirm the party's official support for a very small fraction of the total. So if you have a resolution you want passed, you want it to be within the top 5 in its category. This was the first federal convention to use a new method for dealing with resolutions, the "Saskatchewan Method" as it originated in that province. I think that previous conventions used the same method currently employed by the NDP in BC and some other provinces. That method is to have a committee sort through all the resolutions and then put them into a priority list. The list can be appealed but the committee has the final say in priorities. The new method at this convention was for a central committee to sort all resolutions into one of six categories, and then prioritize them within each category. Near the start of the convention, delegates can pick one of six simulatenous meetings, where they can vote on reorganizing the order of resolutions, and also amending them. There were two resolutions which our group was promoting, one calling for the NDP to introduce legislation calling for non-punitive marijuana policies, the other calling for expansion of the safe injection site program into any communities that wanted one. Our marijuana resolution had been passed by four riding associations, and three other different marijuana resolutions were passed by other groups. One of those was written by Libby Davies, and was a good resolution but not quite as strident as the others. All of the marijuana resolutions were clustered near the bottom of their category, except for the one written by Davies, which was placed at a reasonable 13. Not high enough to likely get debated, but good for a list of 95 resolutions. The safe injection site resolution had been placed in a different category, and given a priority in the 30s. I was surprised as it is a current issue and seems to have broad public support. We decided to focus our efforts on Libby Davies' pot resolution, hoping to amend it to make it a little stronger, and bump it up the list. But despite our best efforts we didn't succeed. Our motion to bump it up to number 5 was spoken against by MP Charlie Angus, who just said it shouldn't be a priority at this time. The motion to prioritize it to #5 was defeated by roughly 65%. We tried some other maneouvers to get something on harm reduction into an omnibus justice bill already at #5, but time for debate on that item ended just as I was about to speak. Although I wanted to get our resolution a higher priority, and I was annoyed by Charlie Angus' comment about it not being an important issue, something else happened during the meeting that was much worse, and which seemed like an organized subversion of the process. BLOCK VOTING Our policy section included other justice and human rights issues, including some resolutions on LGBT equality, and some opposing the changes to the age of consent law which have been proposed by the Conservatives. I figured that opposing change to the age of consent laws was a no-brainer and would pass easily. But when this item came up for debate and amendment, I looked behind me and saw a big crowd of people standing in the back of the room. A motion was made to "table" the resolution, which means sending it back to another committe for further analysis. This is one way of killing a resolution and also avoiding public debate on it. The motion to table carried, and then the big voting block left the room. Many people in the room were verbally and visibily pissed about this. These folks had apparently organized themselves and had entered a few debate rooms at key momments, to vote as a block on key issues. Delegates were supposed to pick one of the six rooms and stick to that section, but apparently these folks liked to bend the rules. An LGBT equality resolution came up next, and I tried to get them to slip in the conclusion of another resolution opposing change to the age of consent laws, but my amendment was ruled out of order. Svend Robinson spoke and got at least an amendment calling for the age of consent to be the same for both hetero and homosexual acts. So anyways, these sorts of shenanigans didn't impress me, although I did learn from them what it takes to get a resolution through, and how to block any you don't like. However, much of this maneouvering was academic anyways, as when it came time for the entire convention to debate the various policy sections which had been prioritized the day before, not much time was allowed and only the top 3-4 resolutions in each section got debated. So even if we had gotten our marijuana resolution bumped to #5 it still wouldn't have made the floor for debate. SAFE INJECTION SITE RESOLUTION PASSES We did get one resolution passed. Libby Davies pushed for a resolution supporting the safe injection site to get into the "emergency resolutions" section which get debated on the last day of convention. This resolution was listed as #6 of six resolutions, but we managed to speed through the other five and we got our resolution passed. So now the federal NDP has an official policy calling for Vancouver's safe injection site program to be continued, and for other safe injection sites to be created in any other communities that want one. RUNNING FOR PREZ John Shavluk, delegate for Delta North, is a passionate member of our group and he was disappointed that our resolution didn't get to the floor. He decided to run for a pair of positions in the party so he could take the opportunity to draw attention to the importance of our issue. Shavluk ran for BC Provincial Council rep, and also President of the NDP. In both cases he was running against a single opponent who had broad support. I only caught one of his two speeches, but he did a good job and used his three minutes to explain that marijuana and prohibition were important issues which the NDP should support. He didn't win either post of course, but he did a nice job and I think delegates respected his position. MEETING AND GREETING In terms of meeting people, handing out our information, networking and building grassroots support, the convention was a success. We gave out about 800 buttons, hundreds of copies of our newsletter, a big stack of LEAP DVDs, dozens of copies of Drug War Facts, and a batch of BC Civil Liberties Association flyers. We also met some enthusiastic people who agreed to start eNDProhibition chapters in their provinces. In the next issue of the End Prohibition News we'll be listing contact info for our Directors in seven provinces: BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia. I spoke briefly with both Stephen Lewis and Jack Layton. Lewis agreed to let me interview him for a future issue of End Prohibition News, and Layton told our group that he had supported our cause since 1973, and to keep up the good work. We missed the big party on Saturday night, jetlag and early mornings caught up with most of our crew. But on Friday night we had a great time smoking up everyone in the outdoor backroom of the NDP party bar. We blazed three massive bombers and endless bowls of BC hash, until a waiter finally asked if we could move the toking outside. So all in all I'm glad that we were at the convention, and although our marijuana resolution joined the other 98% of resolutions which didn't get debated, we did garner a great deal of support for our cause. We met many like-minded people across Canada who share our goals, and we learned a great deal about how the convention process works, and what tactics would work best in the future. Over the next few months, I will be attending more NDP conventions across Canada on behalf of eNDProhibition. I will be at the Ontario Young New Democrat convention in October, the Saskatchewan NDP convention in November, the Ontario NDP convention in January, and I think the Manitoba NDP has a convention scheduled for March. At all these events I will be working with others to educate NDP delegates on the importance of these issues, and to pass resolutions against the drug war. -- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - DANA LARSEN President, eNDProhibition The unofficial anti-prohibition wing of Canada's NDP. http://www.endprohibition.ca
Localização: 
Quebec, QC
Canada

Canadian MP Libby Davies--statement on Insite and NDP Harm Reduction Resolution

Federal NDP Passes Emergency Motion to Protect InSite, Safe Injection Site Dear Friends, The work and action taken at the grass roots level to bring the issue of InSite to national and international attention was remarkable. I really want to thank all of you who took the time to respond to our call for help. It made a huge difference and really demonstrates how, when we work together, it can pay off! There is more work to do to protect and expand harm reduction programs across Canada, and I won’t give up on it. Please find below, an article I wrote for Rabble.ca on September 7 (www.rabble.ca). I’m also pleased to report that a motion to protect InSite, and further expand similar harm reduction programs across the country, was overwhelmingly supported at the federal NDP policy convention in Quebec City this last weekend. Sincerely, Libby INSITE TAKES ON CONSERVATIVES September 7, 2006 Libby Davies, MP Vancouver East and NDP Spokesperson for Drug Policy Last week, in an uncharacteristic move, the Conservative government was forced to bow to public pressure and allow INSITE, North America's first safe injection facility for Intravenous Drug Users, to continue for another 18 months under a special exemption under section 56 of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. This is a huge victory, because the Conservative government has, from day one of the struggle to open a safe site for injecting, vociferously opposed such an idea. It clashes with their narrow views that the correct response to drug use is primarily law enforcement, ignoring harm reduction measures where drug users are treated with respect and dignity. INSITE has been open for three years, but it took six long years prior to that, to take what was a seemingly radical idea from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside and turn it into a functioning, publicly-funded, peer-assisted, scientifically-evaluated operation. Located on the much maligned 100 block East Hastings Street, INSITE has been under a media microscope from the beginning and has been scrutinized, poked and batted about and described as everything from the worst evil, to a life-saving centre. This victory to keep INSITE open, at least for now, is worth taking a closer look at. There are some important markers for activists who have been frustrated by the lack of response and accountability of the Conservatives, on so many issues of concern, whether it is child-care funding, housing or safety. What forced them to pay attention this time and apparently change course and make a decision that is contrary to their political direction? During the early days of the last federal election, Stephen Harper blew into Vancouver and threatened a Conservative government would close down INSITE, scaring the pants off everyone. So what changed? The short answer, I believe, is the Conservatives were overwhelmed by a well-planned, well- executed, and multi-layered campaign, that made it politically impossible to just say no. This well-organized community campaign had tremendous impact and included an interactive website. That, in and of itself, set the momentum and direction for INSITE's survival. In my office, we had already written numerous letters, statements, press releases etc, but it was our call for emails and letters to support the community campaign and to write to the federal health Minister that generated the biggest response I have ever seen on any issue I have worked on. The response from many hundreds of people from across Canada was immediate and solid. I attribute this in part, to the growing media coverage that became national, and even international, as the World AIDS Conference, took place in Toronto in August. Certainly the media attention helped focus and direct people who were generally sympathetic to INSITE and wanted to act. But it's important to note that it was the community activists who set the media stage and kept it going with new developments, actions and new support every few days. Two other factors made a key difference: multi-party support, and academic support. For example, INSITE had the backing of three former Vancouver Mayors and the current Mayor, representing support from across the political spectrum. The ongoing scientific/academic comment and validation fuelled the case that INSITE is part of a bigger drug policy strategy that is working and helping people and local communities, were very important. So often, I encounter folks who understandably feel discouraged and hopeless about changing the political course to a progressive outcome in the face of neo-conservative politics. Yet when we take something on, define it, organize, and develop broad and multi-faceted actions, there can be clear victories. In the case of INSITE it ran the gamut from stopping traffic at busy Toronto intersections for a breathtaking minute (so well-organized through the community coalition group, INSITE For Community Safety), to publicizing academics and their papers and evaluations, to masses of emails and letters from ordinary people at all layers of society. But most importantly, it was drug users themselves — so often marginalized and demonized by society, who spoke out about their own lives and experience, and demanded our attention and support. There was a very strong underlying message that came through again and again. It is that, all lives matter. Human dignity matters — whether it's AIDS victims in Africa or poor drug users in the Downtown Eastside. This powerful message, spoken in so many ways, by so many different people, could not be countered by Conservative bafflegab and rhetoric. Now, there is one last piece to this story, for the bigger battle is yet to come. When after months of silence, the Conservatives finally put out their press release giving the reprieve for INSITE on September 1, only 11 days until the deadline, late on a Friday, on the eve of a long weekend, hoping no-one would notice (most of all them!), the biggest part of the story went largely ignored in media coverage. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief — but the Conservatives had a final message: INSITE is okay for now, but by the way, the Conservatives are going to re-write Canada's drug strategy. In his press release, the Health Minister promises more “studies,” more anti-harm reduction, more funds slated to punitive enforcement, and more regressive legislation. “The Minister also noted he will be working with his federal counterparts at Justice and Public Safety, along with the Canadian Centre for Substance Abuse, to accelerate the launch and implementation of a new National Drug Strategy (NDS), which will put greater emphasis on programs that reduce drug and alcohol abuse.” (September 1, 2006, Health Canada.) Interestingly, the media gave little attention and coverage to this part of the announcement, yet it is a clear signal that the Conservatives are gearing up for something bigger. In 2002, a special Parliamentary Committee on the Non-Medical Use of Drugs I was on, supported the so-called 4 Pillar Approach: Harm Reduction, Prevention, Treatment and Enforcement, as a sensible drug policy for Canada, recognizing the need for a health-based strategy that moves from the fundamentally flawed law enforcement framework. These recommendations came after comprehensive hearings and extensive testimony from across Canada. Of course the Conservative members of the Committee were opposed to this approach, and the call in the report for the government of Canada to “...remove any federal regulatory or legislative barriers to the implementation of scientific trials and pilot projects, and assist and encourage the development of protocols to determine the effectiveness of safe injection facilities in reducing the social and health problems related to injection drug use.” So, they appear determined to undo years of research, by the Parliamentary Committee as well as by groups like the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, VANDU (Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users), BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, and endless international research that supports INSITE, harm reduction, and the comprehensive strategy it is part of. All in all, a bigger battle is looming, and it will come soon. Clearly the Conservatives think they have bought themselves some time to undo progressive drug policy reform work. But I am optimistic. The community is well organized on this one, indeed we are already moving far ahead, as groups like Creative Resistance (www.creativeresistance.net), challenge drug prohibition laws and policy as the cause of much pain and misery. There are always lessons and tactics to be learned as we move forward. The Conservatives may think they have this one in the bag but I don't think so. When we organize and get creative, we have a lot of power!
Localização: 
Vancouver, BC
Canada

Feature: Vancouver's Safe Injection Site Gets Only Limited Continuing Exemption

Insite, Vancouver's pioneering safe injection site, won a reprieve from the Conservative government of Prime Minister Steven Harper last Friday -- but only a limited one. The site's three-year exemption from Canada's drug laws was set to expire next week, and the Harper government had dallied for months on whether it would re-approve the controversial harm reduction experiment. Supporters, including the city of Vancouver, the current and two former mayors, local activists, researchers from around the world, and Canadian politicians had sought a renewal of the three-year exemption, but the Harper government instead announced it would renew the exemption only through December 2007.

https://stopthedrugwar.org/files/insite1.jpg
InSite (courtesy Vancouver Coastal Health)
In an announcement last Friday afternoon -- seemingly timed to make the story vanish during a three-day holiday weekend news dump -- Health Minister Tony Clement said the results of the first three years of Insite's operation raised new questions that must be answered before the Harper government would make a decision about the long-term future of Insite or approve any other safe injection sites in Canada.

"Do safe injection sites contribute to lowering drug use and fighting addiction? Right now the only thing the research to date has proven conclusively is that drug addicts need more help to get off drugs," Minister Clement said. "Given the need for more facts, I am unable to approve the current request to extend the Vancouver site for another three and a half years."

Clement's remarks reflected the Harper government's ideological antagonism toward harm reduction practices in general and any form of dealing with drug users that does not involve abstinence in particular. "We believe the best form of harm reduction is to help addicts to break the cycle of dependency," Clement said, "We also need better education and prevention to ensure Canadians don't get addicted to drugs in the first place."

Although Insite and Vancouver Coastal Health, the government entity charged with operating the site, have produced reams of research showing that the site has reduced drug overdoses, attracted users at risk to HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C, increased the number of users seeking treatment or counseling, and reduced needle sharing -- all without leading to increases in crime or drug use -- the Health Ministry insists it wants more.

"We looked at research put out by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and others," Health Ministry spokesman Erik Waddell told Drug War Chronicle. "We want more research done to show that this form of harm reduction will actually help addicts get off drugs."

While Minister Clement and the Harper government are calling for more research on the efficacy of Insite, they aren't willing to pay for it. The federal government had been sponsoring research at Insite to the tune of $500,000 a year, but Waddell said that had come to an end. "We will not be providing any additional funding for research," he said.

That was news to Vancouver Coastal Health and supporters of Insite. "We hadn't heard that," said Viviana Zanocco, spokeswoman for Vancouver Coastal Health. "We're still trying to get in touch with them and waiting for details," she told Drug War Chronicle. "Still, we are pleased the extension has been granted, even though it's not for the 3 ½ years we requested."

"It's good news that the exemption has been extended and they didn't close it down," said Gillian Maxwell of Insite for Community Safety, a coalition created to help ensure the site's continued existence. "Insite is staying open because of the broad support for it and the depth of research carried out that shows what is has already achieved," she told the Chronicle.

But Maxwell also complained that the Harper government is moving the goalposts. "They have raised the bar on us," she said. "We have a harm reduction program that helps people get into treatment, but now the Harper government wants it to show it helps people stop taking drugs. We can never get everyone to stop taking drugs. This means we have a lot of work to do to protect Insite."

Maxwell said she was shocked but not surprised by the Health Ministry's refusal to fund the additional research it calls for. "They are ideologically opposed to this, so they try to make it as difficult as possible. They may think things should be a certain way, but reality and the research say otherwise."

While the short term extension of the exemption is better than shutting down the facility, said Maxwell, it could well signal that the Harper government will try to shut it down permanently later on. "They didn't feel confident enough to try to close it down now, but they have already made it clear they favor a three-pillar, not a four-pillar, approach. They have little use for harm reduction, and I think they believe that 16 months from now there will have been another election and they will have a majority and then they can shut it down."

Representatives of Insite and the Vancouver city drug policy office were on vacation this week and unavailable to comment.

Ann Livingston of the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users (VANDU) predicted months ago that the Harper government would seek an interim solution. "I guess I was right," she told Drug War Chronicle. "I know these guys, and they don't want to let us mount a campaign. If they had said no outright, that would have been great, we could have really mobilized."

But Livingston and VANDU are not just sitting back and waiting for December 2007. The group filed a lawsuit late last month seeking an injunction to keep the site open and charging the Harper government with discriminating against people with diagnosable illnesses like drug addiction. "Criminalizing a group of people who are addicted to drugs is blocking them from health care, and that's a Charter right," she said. "The lawsuit will continue."

The lawsuit also charged that Insite does not need an exemption from the Canadian drug laws and even if it does, the government has provided no application process. "The staff at Insite doesn't handle drugs, so they shouldn't need an exemption," Livingston argued. "If they are going to argue that they do need a permit, they have to tell us how to do that. Right now there is no application process; it's all at the whim of a minister."

The safe injection site has survived one execution date, but the would-be executioners in Ottawa are still sharpening their axes. Fortunately for Insite, it has a lot of friends and a proven track record. This battle is going to continue for awhile.

Canadian Federal Government Demands More Research on Safe Injection Site, But Won't Pay For It

The Canadian federal government -- relatively hostile to harm reduction measures like safe injection sites since the Conservative Party took power in the last elections -- will not fund further research for Vancouver's InSite safe injection site, Health Ministry spokesman Eric Waddell told the Drug War Chronicle this afternoon. That was news to the site's operator, the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority, whose spokesperson Viviana Zonacco said she had not been informed of that aspect of the ministry's decision.

The Health Ministry had funded research on the injection site's efficacy for the past three years to the tune of $500,000 a year. The ministry extended the site's exemption from the country's drug laws for only year instead of three years last Friday—the dead news day before the three-day weekend in Canada—saying that it required further research on how well it worked. But after demanding more research, the Health Ministry doesn't want to pay for it. Go figger.

I learned about this as I was researching an article I will write about the decision for this week's Chronicle. Check it out on Friday.

Localização: 
Vancouver, BC
Canada

Health Canada Postponing Decision on Vancouver Safe Injection Site

Localização: 
Vancouver, BC
Canada
Publication/Source: 
Health Canada
URL: 
http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/ahc-asc/media/nr-cp/2006/2006_85_e.html

Drug Users Go to Court to Keep Safe Injection Site Open

Press Release – For Immediate Release, August 31, 2006 Drug Users go to Court to keep Safe Injection Site Open Vancouver – The Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users (VANDU) will seek an injunction in BC Supreme Court to prevent the federal government from closing Insite, North America’s first safe injection site. Scientific research in the world’s leading medical journals has established Insite as a success in reducing the harms associated with injection drug use in Canada’s poorest neighbourhood. Despite widespread support however, the Conservative government has refused to confirm that they will renew the permit for the site, due to expire September 12, 2006. A press conference providing details of the lawsuit and injunction application will be held: Friday, September 1, 2006 1pm to 2pm Carnegie Centre Auditorium 410 Main Street, Vancouver VANDU is represented by John Conroy, Q.C., a director of Pivot Legal Society and a well-known senior member of the Bar. ------------------------------------------------------- About Pivot Legal Society Pivot’s mandate is to take a strategic approach to social change, using the law to address the root causes that undermine the quality of life of those most on the margins. We believe that everyone, regardless of income, benefits from a healthy and inclusive community where values such opportunity, respect and equality are strongly rooted in the law.
Localização: 
Vancouver, BC
Canada

Safe Injecting Room Opponents Use "Stunt" to Try to Discredit It

Localização: 
Sydney, NSW
Australia
Publication/Source: 
Sydney Morning Herald
URL: 
http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/needles-found-in-bin-not-ours-clinic/2006/07/27/1153816321045.html

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