15/11/17 By Professor Neil McKeganey
Last week Scotland’s leading law officer, the Lord Advocate, brought a shuddering halt to a proposal from Glasgow City Council to develop a safe injecting centre in the city. Such a centre would have required a change in UK drug laws to enable individuals in possession of illegal drugs to use those drugs within the centre without fear of prosecution. Supporters of this initiative will be disappointed by the outcome, but they need to recognise that the provision of some level of legal protection covering the possession of illegal drugs within the injecting centre would also, by implication, need to be extended to all of those who might claim, legitimately or otherwise, that their drug possession should be green-lighted because they were en route to the injecting centre. In effect, such an initiative would deliver what many of its supporters actually desire – the legalisation of illegal drugs within at least some part of the UK.
In his judgement, the Lord Advocate has not ruled against setting up a centre where doctors can prescribe opiate drugs to addicts. Rather he has simply pointed out that he is not prepared to offer legal protection to a centre where illegal drugs are being used. The Glasgow proposal sought unwisely to tie the proposal for a doctor-led heroin prescribing clinic, which would be legal, with a setting where individuals are allowed to use illegal drugs which would break UK drug laws. There will be many who rightly question the wisdom (and the cost to the public purse) of linking those two proposals.
(Radio interview with Executive Director on Vision Radio Australia)
May 23, 2016 11:39pm
ANDREW JEFFERSON Herald Sun
Gary Christian, secretary for Drug Free Australia, claims the arrival of mobile injecting vans is a desperate measure that will not change the number of overdoses or overdose deaths in the area.
“Tracking of overdose deaths in the Kings Cross area from five years before the room opened compared with the nine years after the room was opened showed no change in the percentage of deaths in the area,” Mr Christian said.
Shane Varcoe, spokesman for the Victorian-based Dalgarno Institute, said any enterprise that enables, empowers or equips ongoing illicit drug use has already breached best healthcare practice.
“Harm reduction can never be about the support of ongoing, health diminishing substance use,” Mr Varcoe said.
“Caring, responsible and civic minded clinicians and policy makers will always be focused on movement toward exit from, and cessation of drug use.
“Mechanisms that enable any government agency to send a message to the community that we are not only supporting, but enabling taxpayer funded illicit drug use, not only breaches care for the illegal drug user, but breaches international conventions.”
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