Pubdate: Fri, 03 May 2002
Source: Province, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2002 The Province
Author: Steve Berry
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)
Bookmark: (Harm Reduction)


It was a simple message, forcibly told.

"Drugs are bad," experts from around the world told a Vancouver audience 

And any measure to set up safe-injection sites or to decriminalize drugs is 

Delegates to the International Drug Education and Awareness Symposium came 
with a tough anti-drug message -- and only that message.

Attendance was by invitation only and no harm-reduction theorists were 
allowed in.

"Safe-injection sites are plain stupidity," said Torgny Peterson, director 
of European Cities Against Drugs.

He said his home country of Sweden quickly abandoned a soft approach to 
drug use in the late 1960s after a brief experiment with providing heroin 
in a limited trial.

Now Sweden has some of the harshest drug laws in Europe.

Peterson said the tough laws, mandatory treatment and education have meant 
decreasing usage and a decline in associated crime and deaths.

"It's not cool to use drugs in Sweden," he said.

Retired Vancouver Provincial Court Judge Wally Craig slammed successive 
federal, provincial and municipal governments, police chiefs and a series 
of attorney-generals for failing to come to grips with the "festering sore" 
that is the drug and crime culture in the Downtown Eastside.

"Where have they been and what were they doing when the 50 women went 
missing one by one?" he asked, adding that drugs played a big part in the 
women's lives and disappearance.

"How can the mayor say he wants safe-injection sites when he's allowed 
those murders to occur?"

Lynda Bentall, who spent an estimated $100,000 to put on the conference, 
said it was meant to speak out against harm reduction and liberalization of 
drug laws.
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