#334 Save Lives By Preserving InSite

Date: Sat, 19 Aug 2006
Subject: #334 Save Lives By Preserving InSite


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DrugSense FOCUS Alert #334 – Saturday, 19 August 2006

For the past 35 years Canadian public drug policies have often taken a
more progressive and rational approach to the very real problems in
our society connected to drug use and abuse. These more sensible
responses often conflict with the harsh responses preferred by the
government of the United States.

One of the most progressive and harm-reducing public policies enacted
in Canada has been the InSite safe injection facility in Vancouver,
B.C. InSite provides sterile needles and a nurse to attend to
overdoses. However, its three-year-old legal exemption under federal
drug law expires on September 12th. Today it’s future is still in doubt.

Yesterday one of Canada’s two national newspapers, the Globe and Mail,
printed an editorial (below) which summarizes the issues well. It, and
the dozens of articles printed in various newspapers in the past week
are all superb targets for your letters. All the major Canadian
newspapers have printed items. More articles and opinion items are
likely to be printed in the weeks ahead.

Please click this link to read the articles and, please,


Letter writers from around the world may help by writing the Canadian
newspapers, as this helps Canadians understand that the views of the
people are not necessarily the views of their government.

Thanks for your effort and support.

It’s not what others do it’s what YOU do



Please visit the website InSite for Community Safety
http://www.communityinsite.ca for information and assistance about
lobbying your federal government to reauthorize and support InSite.


URL: http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v06/n1093/a04.html

Pubdate: Fri, 18 Aug 2006

Source: Globe and Mail (Canada)

CONTACT: letters@globeandmail.ca

Copyright: 2006, The Globe and Mail Company


Stephen Harper’s Conservative government has to decide whether it
wants to adopt the war-on-drugs mentality of the United States or the
more pragmatic, harm-reduction approach of Canada.

Insite, a safe-injection site in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside,
provides sterile needles and a nurse to attend to over-doses. It’s a
modest attempt to reduce some of the harm caused by illegal drug use.
Its three-year-old legal exemption under federal drug law expires on
Sept. 12.

During the last election campaign, Conservative Leader Stephen Harper
said he did not want taxpayers’ money used to fund drug use. (Insite
receives $500,000 a year from Health Canada.) The signals are not
good. But the federal cabinet minister from Vancouver, David Emerson,
supports the site and says, “If the weight of arguments are in favour,
I’m sure the government will be in favour.”

So let us consider the weight of arguments. On the one side: more
livable streets, fewer deaths and a slower spread of disease in a
neighbourhood with Third World rates of HIV-AIDs and hepatitis C. On
the other, the site might be seen as a form of official permission for
drug use; an official with the U.S. administration called it
“state-sponsored suicide.”

On average, 607 people a day, most of them long-term addicts, show up.
In an 18-month period, the site reported 453 overdoses, but no
deaths. Assuming there would otherwise have been a 5 per cent
mortality rate from those overdoses, 22 lives were saved. The sterile
equipment helps check the spread of disease. Studies in peer-reviewed
publications such as the Canadian Medical Association Journal have
found fewer drug users injecting in public, fewer used syringes left
on the ground and more users referred to treatment programs. No
evidence has been reported of increased addiction rates linked to the
site. No increase has been found in drug-related crime around the

Having a safe place for the long-term addicts of Canada’s most
down-and-out neighbourhood to inject drugs is hardly radical. A more
provocative form of harm reduction is being studied in Vancouver and
Montreal, in which doctors prescribe free heroin to 170 addicts who
have tried methadone treatment without success. Ottawa’s funding arm,
the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, gave this initiative
$8.1-million. And that was wise. Canada should be looking at a range
of practical solutions to our cities’ drug problems.

The weight of arguments depends on whether the scale contains an
ideological tilt. If Mr. Harper’s government wishes to reject the
scientific evidence in favour of a moral absolutist position on drug
use, let him say so.


Additional suggestions for writing LTEs are at our Media Activism Center:


Or contact MAP Media Activism Facilitator Steve Heath for personal
tips on how to write LTEs that get printed.


Join Steve and other LTE writing friends of MAP this Tuesday evening
at 9 p.m. EDT for a roundtable discussion of how to write LTEs that
are likely to be printed.

See: http://mapinc.org/resource/paltalk.htm for all details on how
you can participate in this important meeting of leading minds in
reform. Discussion is conducted with live Voice (microphone and
speakers all that is needed) and also via text messaging.

The Paltalk software is free and easy to download and

The password for this gathering will be: welcome-pal (all lower



Please post a copy of your letter or report your action to the sent
letter list (sentlte@mapinc.org) if you are subscribed, or by
E-mailing a copy directly to heath@mapinc.org if you are not
subscribed. Your letter will then be forwarded to the list so others
can learn from your efforts.

Subscribing to the Sent LTE list (sentlte@mapinc.org) will help you to
review other sent LTEs and perhaps come up with new ideas or
approaches as well as keeping others aware of your important writing

To subscribe to the Sent LTE mailing list see



Prepared by: Stephen Heath, MAP Media Activism Facilitator =.