Should hard drugs be decriminalized?
A Vancouver clinic has been giving out free heroin to addicts for years. They say harm-reduction techniques are more effective than law enforcement in getting addicts off drugs. Should hard drugs such as heroin be decriminalized?
More from this episode:
- Two views: harm-reduction vs. policing
- Will new guidelines restrict drug access for patients with chronic pain?
- 'Without methadone, I'd be stumped': addict
In a small clinic in downtown Vancouver, a patient walks up to the dispensary counter to get her prescription filled. She ties a rubber band tightly around her arm, jabs a syringe into a vein, and injects the drug treatment she's received. That drug is heroin.
Heroin is often perceived as a killer a drug that conjures up images of desperation and uncontrollable addiction; a downward spiral of crimes, catastrophes and early death.
But the Providence Crosstown Clinic in Vancouver has been giving out free heroin to addicts for several years; it's the only treatment centre in North America where addicts get actual heroin. They say harm-reduction techniques are more effective than law enforcement in getting addicts off drugs, reducing crime, and saving money for the health care system.
Critics argue free heroin only coddles and enables drug addicts and prolongs addiction rather than ending it.
But more and more Canadian cities aim to offer harm reduction services for drug addicts. Vancouver has long had a supervised injection site. Kamloops B.C. recently opened one. Other cities, such as Toronto, Montreal, Edmonton, Hamilton to name a few, are looking at doing the same.
Harm reduction can mean anything from a safe place to shoot up to free supplies of needles, and heroin. What do you think about this trend?
Our question today: "Should hard drugs such as heroin be decriminalized?"
Lisa James, a client of the Providence Crosstown Clinic in Vancouver, where she receives free heroin with her treatment
Dr. Gabor Maté, doctor and author of "In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction"
Adrienne Rosen, Director and Co-Founder at Access Education Guatemala Children's Fund.
Richard Elliot, Executive director of the Canadian HIV AIDS Legal Network who advocates for legal regulation
Mark Kleiman, Professor of Public Policy at the New York University, Marron Institute of Urban Management where he leads the Crime and Justice program. Author of "Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know."
- B.C. clinic's free heroin enables addicts to 'have a meaningful life again,' co-ordinator says
- Canada now allows prescription heroin in severe opioid addiction
- Little — if any — heroin left in Vancouver, all fentanyl: drug advocates
- From the archives: Vancouver's drug crises of days past
- Photos outing heroin couple spark questions of purpose and privacy
- Health Canada heroin decision draws minister's rebuke (Sept. 20, 2013)
Globe and Mail
- At war over the war on drugs
- B.C. to spend additional $10 million in battle against overdoses (Sept. 28, 2016)
- Ottawa approves second supervised injection site (Jan. 15, 2016)
- Opening supervised injection sites in Ontario makes financial sense: study (Nov. 30, 2015)
- Time for a clear-eyed look at drug policy (Nov. 12, 2015)
- Vancouver's supervised injection site, the first in North America, opened 13 years ago. What's changed? (Mar. 20, 2016)
- Decriminalize heroin, cocaine and methamphetamines to fight addiction, B.C. report says (May 23, 2013)
- Fentanyl: The king of all opiates, and a killer drug crisis (Jun. 22, 2015)
Government of Canada
- Statement from the Minister of Health on the Opioid Crisis
- Health Canada's Action Plan on Opioid Misuse
- Leaders get smart on drug policy in Davos (Jan. 27, 2014)
- Canadian researchers find illegal drugs more plentiful despite police seizures (Sept. 30, 2013)
- The Human-Rights Case for Drug Legalization (Jun. 7, 2016)
- Should All Drugs Be Decriminalized? (Apr. 14, 2016)