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December 2006
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Canada — Drug Czar’s Puppet

Canada’s Tory government seems anxious to attach the strings and start dancing to John Walters’ tune.
Internal documents show U.S. involvement in Canada’s national drug strategy

”The Harper government favours a U.S.-style approach to drug problems, which is to lock more people up and don’t treat it as a health problem, treat it as a criminal law problem of morality,” Boyd said.
”That’s very much at odds with what’s going on in Europe and there’s really no good evidence to suggest that it’s going to be terribly useful.”
New Democratic Party MP Libby Davies, whose Vancouver East riding includes the supervised injection facility, said the Harper government appears to be ”taking orders”from the American drug czar and other top officials of the Bush administration.”

[Thanks, Allan]

Related: The North Shore News editorial Missing the Point

THE RCMP’s decision to weigh in with an internal report criticizing Vancouver’s supervised injection site is an indication that more work is needed – not so much on the injection site itself but on long-held beliefs about drug use.
Produced this summer when the Harper government was considering Insite’s licence, the report voices the opinion that anything that lowers the perceived risk of drug use is bad, because it could encourage both addicts and potential new drug users, who no longer have to worry about overdosing or contracting HIV/AIDS.
That kind of ideological analysis, based on next to no actual evidence, would be laughable if it wasn’t apparently being given consideration in Ottawa.
Leaving aside the question of whether addicts are usually carefully weighing their situations before sticking needles in their arms, the report misses the point of Insite, which isn’t to make drugs either scary or not, but to reduce the harm associated with them. So far all the studies – as opposed to anecdotal observations cited by the RCMP – – have suggested that it’s working.
Addicts are rarely scared into quitting. Prohibitions – on drugs or booze – have also been largely failed experiments.
The injection site is an attempt to try a new approach – one that considers addiction as a medical, rather than criminal, issue. It deserves a chance, and it deserves to succeed or fail on its own merits unencumbered by institutional prejudices.

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