Deal with Policy Inadequacies rather than funding failure.
Andre Bigras of the Drug Prevention Network of Canada writes critiquing Vancouver's supervised drug injection facility Insite, suggesting it to be a waste of money. Peer review analysis shows it not only saves lives of drug consumers, but significantly it has a major health benefit to otherwise innocent victims in both reducing HepC, HIV and other social liabilities due to acquisitive crimes. His misunderstanding of the goals and aspirations of needle 'services' is as misguided as his understanding of New Zealand's "supposed' consideration to introduce forced treatment. NZ legislated in 1966 to do this but like most other educated and informed countries has moved away from it due to ineffectual outcomes. He may have been referring to a recent parliamentary hearing where a former policeman, now public speaker and pseudo-educator self-interestedly called for renewing such interventions but they were roundly dismissed. Likewise, Mr Bigras misrepresents the science behind both England's reclassification and Hollands border tourism issues. (He couldnt have got it more wrong on Scotland, see http://www.stv.tv/info/news/20080609/Call_for_new_ways_to_tackle_drugs_and_a_080609110937870
It is however a fact that the NZ Law Commission, a statutory body headed by former Prime Minister and Bill of Rights architect Sir Jeffery Palmer, is undertaking a historic review of NZ drug laws including the international conventions that underpin them. The Canadian Senate Committee called for such international debate in 2002 and significantly this year the EU and the UN are doing some self examination from first principles. Mr Bigram may be pleased with Tony Clement's position on drugs but like Dan Gardiner, civil society globally is now confronting the abject failure of the current expenditure in enforcement 'demand reduction' to produce any quantitative or qualitative result. Such principled review is the stuff of social capital.
Blair Anderson Director, Educators For Sensible Drug Policy, http://efsdp.org/
DEAL WITH ADDICTS' PROBLEMS RATHER THAN FUNDING SAFE SITES
Re: An irrational and stupid drug policy, May 31. I fully support the government's new drug strategy for Canada that is based on prevention, treatment and enforcement. I thank Health Minister Tony Clement for taking a stand. Less than five per cent of the injection drug users of Vancouver use Insite, the supervised injection site, leaving 95 per cent on their own. Those statistics from the Insite report itself indicate to me that to meet all the needs of every injection user, Vancouver would need another 19 sites alone. Each site costing $3,000,000 per year. Not knowing how many will make it to treatment, only how many have been referred, means that this need could grow on a yearly basis. I respect Mr. Gardner's opinion but do not agree with it. I have worked in a volunteer capacity with the homeless, poor and addicts of the inner city of Ottawa for more than 12 years and have witnessed firsthand the deterioration of their lives and our city. Having visited Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, I can only pray that the same doesn't happen here in Ottawa. Mr. Gardner mentions that "real prevention means dealing with the social decay -- broken families, mental illness, illiteracy -- that promotes drug abuse." I agree that this indeed is the root cause and would definitely be a good starting place to invest money. This is the real issue at the end of the day. Harm reduction measures only ensure the addictive behaviour continues and doesn't do anything to prevent it from beginning in the first place. England has reclassified marijuana, Scotland is examining its methadone program, New Zealand is examining if it can force addicts into treatment and Amsterdam in Holland has closed some of its prostitution sites along with some cafes which are really cannabis distribution sites. My question to Mr. Gardner is: are all those other countries and governments also irrational and stupid given they are reviewing their drug policies and re-adjusting them to better serve the citizens?
ANDRE BIGRAS, Gatineau, Drug Prevention Network of Canada