Pubdate: Thu, 06 Apr 2006
Source: Copenhagen Post, The (Denmark)
Copyright: 2006 The Copenhagen Post
Bookmark: (Safe Injecting Rooms)


The minister of health takes a tentative step towards allowing drug 
users to shoot up under the observation of health professionals

A long-standing battle between residents in the Vesterbro 
neighbourhood and the government over legal drug injection rooms may 
be drawing to a close. The minister of health, Lars Lokke Rasmussen, 
announced on Wednesday that he would push for a facility where some 
addicts could shoot up.

The injection room will provide a place for drug addicts to inject 
prescription drugs such as methadone while under the supervision of 
health professionals, who will also serve as counsellors.

Rasmussen's turnaround came after a meeting with Mikkel Warming, the 
deputy mayor for social affairs, and the Association for a Solution 
to the Narcotics Problem in Vesterbro.

Vesterbro, once notorious for its prostitutes, sex shops and drug 
addicts, has undergone a gentrification process in recent years. New 
residents, who often find used syringes on their property, have 
pleaded with local and national officials to find a place where 
addicts can take their drugs.

Copenhagen's City Council has supported the residents, but the 
Liberal-Conservative government has blocked the efforts.

'The sad thing is that the government won't give us permission,' said 
Lord Mayor Ritt Bjerregaard earlier this week.

Earlier this week, the association announced plans that it would open 
its own injection room.

In addition to political support, Rasmussen set aside DKK 10m to be 
used over the next four years by Vesterbro organisations.

A minority of the drug users in Vesterbro are addicted to methadone, 
and Warming had hoped that the minister would also permit heroin 
addicts to use the rooms.

Rasmussen, however, said permitting the use of illegal drugs sent the 
wrong signal.

Although Conservative councillors support the injection rooms, 
Conservative MPs did not:

'This sounds like a slippery slope on the way towards true injection 
rooms,' said health issues spokesperson Helle Sjelle. 'How can we be 
sure that addicts aren't using illegal narcotics in the injection rooms?'
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom