Pubdate: Tue, 18 Apr 2017
Source: Vulcan Advocate (CN AB)
Copyright: 2017 Osprey Media
Author: Morgan Wilson


There's very little middle ground in the debate about safe injection

Lines are quickly drawn between the supporters and the

I suspect that you could do a bit of political polling during a
discussion about "supervised consumption sites" and the lines dividing
the participant camps would likely reveal a left-right political split
as well.

Conservatives tend to be anti-drug, anti-safe injection

Liberals tend to flow to the other side, largely supporting supervised
consumption sites.

Of course, this is quite a bit more than I know.

Arguments against safe injection sites tend to be based on the notion
that drug usage is illegal and that helping users use safely is
endorsing illicit drug use. Somehow that notion blossoms into a theory
that if there's some effort being made to reduce harm, that will
result in an increase in drug usage.

The pro-injection site side insists that drug usage will decrease if
there's an avenue provided that might help counsel users towards
treatment. They downplay their role in an otherwise illegal activity
under the guise of harm reduction.

It's a fiery debate many folks are too eager to wage without knowing
anything at all about it. It's also a classic "Not In My Back Yard"
example. Even supporters don't want to be anywhere near a
safe-injection site facility.

Whether you believe your neighbourhood's kids are more likely to fall
into addiction by the mere proximity to addicts is another component
to this thorny issue.

The whole group of intravenous drug users is one that's regarded as
lowly as the untouchable class in some caste societies. Getting
anywhere near them will somehow infect you with their disease.

Where am I on this subject? On the edge of the middle ground but
nearer to the supporters of safe injection sites.

I've done a bit of reading about Insite's efforts in Vancouver and
there's demonstrable evidence that harm is being reduced in the
intravenous users (five-year-old information). Nurses on site have
treated injection-related infections, and there has been some success
in getting addicts to detox. Drug-related litter has been reduced
somewhat in areas served by the facilities.

There have been overdoses at Insite - in the hundreds. I've not been
able to find if there have been fatalities as a result; there were
none in the first few years of operation. I suspect that proximity to
nurses and emergency care have helped improve outcomes of ODs.

What keeps me on the middle ground is the mere fact that we're helping
people administer an illegal controlled substance.

Its mere existence requires a network of illegal participants who
import, produce, and market a vile, insidious product.

I'm drawn to the middle by the folks who say that the money spent on
clean syringes, cookers, tourniquets and the facility would be better
spent on eradicating the drugs in the first place.

That argument was the basis of the Harper Conservative's staunch
opposition to safe injection sites.

Many barriers to their formation and existence were thrown up by the
right wing political stance that regarded them as an

I wouldn't go quite that far, but I did agree that there was an
implied association with the drug industry - the illegal component of
drug usage had to be overlooked for a safe injection site to function.

Regardless, there's some rumblings that have re-energized the
injection site debate.

New legislation from the Liberals removes some of the barriers to
developing supervised consumption facilities.

The wording is a bit vague, and the opposition has pounced on it,
stating that local autonomy might be at risk when determining
locations for these facilities.

I see their value but certainly Not In My Back Yard, thank you.
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MAP posted-by: Matt