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Science says safe injection works. So why shut it down?

Richard Warnica 30 May

Richard Warnica is a senior editor at The Tyee.

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Despite peer-reviewed study after peer-reviewed study after peer-reviewed study providing evidence that it’s doing its job, North America’s first and only supervised injection site could close its doors by the end of this year.

The site, which has operated in Vancouver since 2003, was bolstered again last week by the release of a study showing that users of the site were 30-per cent more likely to participate in detox programs. This is hardly new or surprising news. As Elaine Brier reported in The Tyee last fall, “by providing a benign environment for injection drug users, Insite (located on the infamous 100 block of East Hastings) has, if anything, reduced the harm and severity of the drug problem in the Downtown Eastside.”

Still, that’s not enough for the federal Tories. If reports are to be believed, the Conservatives will not renew the site’s legal exemption when they release a new enforcement heavy drug plan later this week. And without the legal exemption, Insite, along with the lives it saves and the research it fuels, will have to close its doors in December.

Again, we’re hardly shocked. As Ottawa Citizen columnist (and friend of Today’s Big Story) Dan Gardner put it yesterday “[i]gnoring research, evidence and logic is what the Tories do. So now they're going to do it some more. Ho-hum.” But it’s still disheartening.

No one claims Insite will solve Vancouver's drug problem. But with good solid research now showing it can help reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS, vastly curtail the number of deaths by overdose and provide a way in for addicts seeking treatment, we should be talking about ramping the project up, not shutting it down.  [Tyee]

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