Pubdate: Fri, 08 Jun 2007
Source: Globe and Mail (Canada)
Copyright: 2007 The Globe and Mail Company
Author: Rod Mickleburgh
Bookmark: (InSite)
Bookmark: (Cocaine)
Bookmark: (Heroin Maintenance)
Bookmark: (Methadone)
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine - Canada)
Bookmark: (Needle Exchange)
Bookmark: (Supervised Injection Sites)


VANCOUVER -- Specific plans for trials of Mayor Sam Sullivan's 
controversial proposal to wean drug addicts from illegal narcotics by 
giving them substitute pills should be unveiled "within weeks," the 
mayor said yesterday.

There will be five separate studies, all of them related to "testing 
the effectiveness of substitution ... to convert illegal injection 
drug users to legal pill medicine users," he said.

His plan is an improvement over the use of methadone by heroin users 
seeking to kick their habit, he said, because it will also cover 
cocaine and crystal meth addicts.

"And 25 per cent of heroin users can't use methadone. Converting 
addicts to legal pill users is the first step to recovery," Mr. Sullivan said.

Known as chronic addiction substitution treatment, or CAST, the 
project is being run by a non-profit society that has high-profile 
former politicians John Reynolds of the Conservatives and Joy 
MacPhail of the NDP on its board of directors.

However, CAST has attracted controversy from the beginning over its 
experimental nature, its seemingly overambitious hopes to have as 
many as 1,000 addicts enrolled in the trials within 18 months and a 
belief that Mr. Sullivan is lessening his support of the city's safe 
injection site in order to pursue his own addiction ideas.

Noting the federal Conservatives' ideological opposition to the safe 
injection site for heroin addicts, however, the mayor has vigorously 
lobbied the government to give a green light to CAST, which does not 
involve the use of illegal drugs.

"Personally, I would like to see more safe injection sites, but I 
also believe they are not the ultimate goal," Mr. Sullivan said. "I 
would like to see a world where there is no need for needle exchanges 
and places to inject drugs. They are not long-term solutions."

The mayor made his comments during a wide-ranging review of his first 
18 months in office.

A lengthy news release this week listed 72 separate achievements 
combining the concrete, such as the city's new "311 Access Vancouver" 
multiple-language service, with the dubious, such as taking credit 
for the ongoing Woodward's project.

During the term of former mayor Larry Campbell, Mr. Sullivan voted 
against the large Woodward's development, which combines retail 
opportunities, civic uses, market-value condos and social housing units.

The mayor defended the inclusion of Woodward's as part of his 
"housing progress over the past 18 months".

"I could easily have put a stick in the spokes and let the thing 
tumble. There were things that I had to do to actively make sure that 
Woodward's stayed on track," Mr. Sullivan said.

"I could have let things go and there would have been problems. But I 
got involved to ensure that every partner had confidence there was 
political support for it."

On another matter, the mayor said he was looking forward to the 
hiring of the city's new police chief to replace outgoing Jamie 
Graham, with whom he had, at times, a testy relationship.

"I'm not one to just write cheques to the police force. They are not 
the only answer to crime and disorder," Mr. Sullivan said. "The 
police should be working with other agencies and departments. I am a 
great admirer of the police, but I won't let them interfere with my judgment."

The former mayor, now a senator, gave Mr. Sullivan a critical review 
for his first 18 months.

"We got the Olympics. We got Woodward's. We got lots of things," Mr. 
Campbell said. "But Sam Sullivan has done nothing, absolutely nothing." 
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