We have been hearing about the War on Drugs (TM) a lot lately in the news. The US style approach. The punishment, incarceration, marginalization, machine like, approach.
Drugs is bad. Let's spend billions to lock them all up, and not even really touch the actual problems. Attack the symptom, not the cause.
My personal theory is that all that punitive action fills someones coffers. Its a bizness, like the Iraq occupation for oil and Halliburton's bottom line. The RW looks for any kind of war, it's a money maker.
Back before that last election where 36% voted for the Harper Conservatives, we almost legalized pot in Canada. The Bush Admin whined and squealed and threatened to shut their borders. The Harpercons made sure that proposed legislation disappeared quickly.
In Vancouver BC there is a program called InSite.
The site was set up after the mounting problem of HIV/AIDS and overdose deaths led to a public health advisory from Health Canada in 1997. The site opened in
2002 and received a three-year exemption to operate from the federal government.
This week, authorities granted another six-month extension, but it is unclear what will happen to the site when that expires on Jun. 30.
At Insite, nurses provide clean syringes and watch out for overdoses. Injection drug users bring their own drugs, and can access referrals to drug detox and rehabilitation services if they choose.
The Harper Conservatives automatically deride the value of the InSite program, and have been trying to malign and place doubt at every opportunity. A lie oft repeated.....
The Harper government's assertion that there is no research proving Vancouver's supervised injection site helps reduce drug addiction is being challenged in a new report by a peer-reviewed, London-based medical journal.
The report concludes that Insite's opening in Vancouver's grim Downtown Eastside has led to a 30 per cent increase by facility users in entering detoxification programs.
The part I emphasized is pretty startling. But it does not support the hard line that the Cons would so love to take on this. It supports a humanitarian, and medical approach.
Is it proven? Well, wherever its being used, there are some very encouraging numbers.
"In the beginning, people worried that the Swiss government's liberal policy would attract even more people to heroin. Those fears have proved unfounded," Nordt stressed.
Nordt and Stohler's research shows that in the canton of Zurich, home to more than a fifth of Switzerland's addicts, there were 850 new heroin users in 1990 but just 150 in 2002.
Such a downward curve is not found in other countries, especially those that have tried to crack down on drugs. In Britain and Australia, drug use rose during the same period. In Italy, it vacillated from one year to the next, but the Zurich researchers view that data as incomplete.
"In Switzerland, the medicalisation of heroin use has helped change the image of users: from rebels to losers," Nordt said. "In the eyes of the young, they're mostly just sick people, forced to get medical help."
Not only is that program helping people recover from addiction, it is also stopping young people from experimenting and becoming future addicts.
This is a really good overall review, and a highly recommended read on the topic of Harm Reduction.
One thing to keep in mind: Advocating for Harm Reduction doesn't mean that you condone the use of drugs.
It simply means that you know there is another way to deal with the problem, and that you want to help people, reduce the spread of diseases such as HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis, and provide programs that will help young people to make educated decisions and keep them from becoming a statistic themselves.
Keep in mind also that the dramatic fall of smoking in the general population in the last 20 years, is a direct result of harm reduction programs. For which the tobacco industry is really pissed off. heh.
So why on earth would the Harper Conservative Government want to ignore all the evidence, ignore the costs to humanity of using the Justice system as opposed to a scientific approach, and wage the US version of the WAR ON DRUGS (TM)?
Seems these guys have a lot to do with it.
Out of step INCB report still ignores major threats to world health
Drug policy is still in a crisis situation. This is clear when you read the latest annual Report of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) issued on the 2nd of March. But at the same time the INCB denounces pragmatic, and often successful, alternative policies implemented by many countries as not complying with the international drug control regime. The INCB is responsible for enforcing and monitoring the compliance of national policies with the three United Nations drug control treaties. These Treaties, based on a repressive approach, have been failing to effectively tackle the drug problem for the past 40 years. Nevertheless, the INCB gives no consideration as to whether or not current practices are effective, or whether the inclusion of new policies in the treaties would be of benefit to the world drug problem. “The drug issue is multi-dimensional and needs to be tackled in a pragmatic, evidence-based way, avoiding ideological stances which hinder responsible policy development” said Mr. Emmanuel Reinert, Executive Director of the Senlis Council (see below).
Living in a time warp? Just blind?
A report released in February 2007 by the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network and the Open Society Institute's Public Health Programme titled "Closed to Reason:
The International Narcotics Control Board and HIV/AIDS" states in the introduction, "The United Nations system as a whole is committed to reducing HIV among people who inject drugs, to safeguarding the human rights of people who use drugs, and to increasing accountability and civil society involvement. In this context, the INCB is an anomaly: a closed body, accountable to no one, that focuses on drug control at the expense of public health and that urges national governments to do the same."
The report also stated that the INCB Board attempted to silence Stephen Lewis, the U.N. secretary-general's special envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, after he spoke favourably about the Canadian data which showed that the facility had reduced HIV risk at the International conference on the Reduction of Drug Related Harm in 2006.
If one wanted to make a comparison, they could use the Bush admins and the Vatican's stances on safe sex.
Again, no science or data are part of their documented ideals. Just a firm belief that it it must be so.
And now, we have a minority Government in Canada that operates on pretty much the same basis. Faith based governing.
Same sex marriage didn't cause the cataclysm all the Wingnuts predicted, they still deny the Climate crisis, they can't add worth shit when it comes to childcare costs and taxes and surpluses, and now the WOD's. (WAR ON DRUGS.)
Who would also profit from a WOD'? I have no doubts that the moves that the Harper Conservatives are making with all their squawking about Justice and punishment are motivated by something far less noble than public safety.
Gods, Are Canadians really stupid enough to fall for this crap?
Faith based government. Not fact based.
Another piece of the puzzle about InSite in Vancouver: The Olympics are coming in 2010, and like the homeless, those who use the InSite services are to be swept under the rug.
Get the word out, its up to us.