Canadian Supreme Court Considers North America’s Only Legal Injection Site

The Canadian Supreme Court will consider the legality of North America’s only government-sanctioned facility that medically supervises the injection of illegal drugs. On Thursday, the court is scheduled to hear a case that pits its founders against the government, which says the facility promotes drug abuse.

The Associated Press (AP) reports that the facility, called Insight, receives more than 800 visitors a day and has overseen more than a million injections since 2003. Visitors bring their own drugs. They are given clean needles and supervised by a nurse as they inject themselves.

Located in Vancouver, British Columbia, Insight is promoted by its founders as safe and humane. The site’s defenders say the facility provides health care, which the Canadian constitution considers a provincial issue. The Canadian government argues that the case is a federal matter because heroin is a federally banned substance.

The AP notes that the World Health Organization calls medically supervised injection facilities a “priority intervention” in reducing the spread of AIDS through infected needles.

In April, the medical journal The Lancet published a study that found that Insight has reduced fatal overdoses by 35 percent in a neighborhood that has one of Canada’s highest rates of drug addiction.

2 Responses to Canadian Supreme Court Considers North America’s Only Legal Injection Site

  1. Sandra Streifel | May 15, 2011 at 11:56 am

    I’m a Canadian who lives a few miles away from the Downtown Eastside where the clinic is. The ambulance paramedics don’t always arrive in time to revive someone who overdoses–people aren’t afraid to call for help because cops don’t consider personal posession a high priority to investigate. If people use InSite, they prevent disease transmission like HIV and serum hepatitis, but also local infections, and have access to healthcare and treatment upstairs in the same building. The Conservative Prime Minister, Steven Harper, is morally opposed to harm reduction, even many more traditional approaches like needle exchanges. I received a “tough on crime” post card from him saying “jail the dealers, throw the addicts in treatment”. There’s no way under Canadian law to compel anyone to undergo rehab. In Russia, yes.

  2. perryrants | May 16, 2011 at 9:38 am

    the brief article reports that “800 visitors a day and has overseen more than a million injections since 2003.” and that there the site “reduced fatal overdoses by 35 percent.”

    Great, so how many folks since 2003 have stopped using drugs? how many died from drug related health issues (hep c, aids etc), how many became productive memebers of thier communities?

    preventing an overdose at that moment may be a grand idea, but for the future, it does not help anyone.

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