Last month's BC Supreme Court decision that Vancouver's supervised injection site (Insite) is a medically necessary intervention was groundbreaking, for it gave Insite the green light to stay open, and essentially told the federal government to change the nation's laws so that other cities could open up similar programs.
Prime Minister Harper's decision to challenge the ruling was shocking. In doing this Mr Harper is choosing to embrace anecdotal opinion pieces over the 25 peer reviewed research papers published in such journals as The Lancet by world-renowned medical scientists such as Canadian HIV expert Dr Julio Montaner.
Mr Harper's response is a triumph of ideology over science; opinion over fact. In reality, Insite is doing exactly what all political parties and the public want. It has:
- increased access to the use of detox and drug treatment facilities
- reduced the risk of overdose fatalities
- reduced needle sharing and the transmission of HIV, hepatitis B and C
- reduced crime
- saved the public money.
It's no wonder that Insite is supported by the Vancouver Police, Vancouver's mayor, BC Premier Gordon Campbell, and more than 110 prominent scientists and academics.
The "war on drugs" is a failure. Insite has proven to reduce harm, reduce crime, improve treatment outcomes and save taxpayers' money. It's time the federal government embraces the science, discards their ideology, and supports the broader use of supervised injection sites as part of an array of tools needed to address one of society's most difficult social problems. Dr Keith Martin, Member of Parliament for Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca and Official Opposition Critic for International Development