The British Columbia Court of Appeal is considering the Canadian government’s bid to shut down the Insite supervised-injection program for opiate addicts, the Vancouver Courier reported April 29.
The Conservative government is appealing a 2008 B.C. Supreme Court ruling that sustained a waiver of federal drug laws that has allowed Insite to remain in operation since 2003. Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government has attempted to strip the Vancouver-based program of its exemption and shut it down.
Insite allows opiate addicts to inject their drugs in a supervised setting using clean needles and with access to addiction specialists and other healthcare services. “[Prime Minister] Stephen Harper is in essence bringing back the death penalty for the drug addicted,” said Jenny Kwan, an opposition politician from Vancouver at a rally outside the courthouse. “He’s condemning them to a life of death and diseases.”
Studies have shown that Insite has cut the spread of disease among addicts and resulted in some referrals to treatment, but opponents say the program enables addiction. Insite is the only legal supervised-injection site in North America.