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It’s a harsh solution but it does, in time, work

More than 11,000 British Columbians have died from drug overdoses since a public health emergency was declared in 2016. That’s six people a day for six years in this province of just five million people.

It is time for “a monumental shift in drug policy,” Carolyn Bennett, Canada’s addictions minister, said on Monday.

Her provincial counterpart, Sheila Malcolmson insisted: “Substance use is a public health issue, not a criminal one.”

“By decriminalising people who use drugs, we will break down the stigma that stops people from accessing life-saving support and services.”

That harsh calculus. Those who wish to come off will do so, unencumbered by the law etc. Those who do not will be dead. Solved.

They are their lives to waste after all.

18 thoughts on “It’s a harsh solution but it does, in time, work”

  1. I’m not sure about that logic.

    If one is a junkie, chances are that “social stigma” is the last of one’s concerns.

    Nevertheless a brave move by BC, it’ll be fascinating to see how it works out in 5 years time.

    ps Anyone been to Vancouver recently ? I went there 20 yrs ago and thought that it was great. But I get the impression that it has gone badly downhill.

  2. I was there 3 years ago, with my wife.
    First evening out, we passed a flowerbed with a man lying there, unconscious. A needle was stuck in his ankle.
    The ambulance had been called so we moved on.

    Dreadful. We made a donation to a Catholic drop-in centre for addicts. What else could we do?

  3. I’m surprised it’s not more… How anyone can face the “delights” of baby-Trudeau’s socialist paradise without being off their face most of the time beggars belief.

  4. Vancouver has the same problem as San Francisco. It has the best weather in the country, where junkies can sleep in the street without freezing to death; so they travel there from across the country. They arrive with no social ties, so social stigma isn’t an issue.

    The direct cause of death is overdose. Dealers cut and mix drugs, so you never know how big a dose you’re injecting. Government can only solve that by testing the drugs and regulating their manufacture, which implies legalisation.

    Aside, I can understand junkies in Glasgow. But Vancouver is a beautiful city, akin to Calhoun’s rat utopia; so I don’t know why people feel the need to take hard drugs there.

  5. Well, one thing we can be sure of. Prohibition DOES NOT WORK. Drugs are ubiquitous because there is a whole thriving profitable industry around making them so.

  6. This makes me think about the whinging about the end of the abo alcohol ban in Alice Springs. The claims are that the young blokes have gone even madder and are robbing and bashing to their hearts content.

    Vancouver’s advantage appears to be that heroin doesn’t make you as aggressive.

  7. Years ago I was struck that everything I saw in the papers about heroin was completely devoid of science. Lots of hand-wringing, lots of bewailing, but virtually nothing that amounted to explanation or evidence.

    Eventually I came across this book which I think highly of. It’s not really about the science either; it is about the spurious (in his view) standard sermons about heroin. As Tim might say, it’s mainly about incentives – especially for bureaucrats and doctors.

    Maybe I should read it again: would the appalling performances of The State and The Press over Covid add to its punch?

  8. Don’t forget folks, Tim lives in Portugal which decriminalised possession of personal-use quantities of all drugs over twenty years ago. This doesn’t mean that drug users have it easy (and the supply chain is still treated harshly), but the simple act of making users non-criminals opens up avenues of escape for them and undermines the supply business. Portugal didn’t turn into a nightmare drugscape.

    Prohibition doesn’t work against substances that are both pleasurable and addictive. You can put all of society under the boot of a harsh military dictatorship and it still won’t fucking work. There’s no point in making us all miserable in order to benefit the symbiotic relationship between puritans and drug cartels.

  9. Andrew M: “Aside, I can understand junkies in Glasgow. But Vancouver is a beautiful city, akin to Calhoun’s rat utopia; so I don’t know why people feel the need to take hard drugs there.”

    Parts of Glasgow are wonderful – areas like Dowanhill and Strathbungo have some of the finest streetscapes to be found anywhere in the country. The problem for the city’s junkies (well, one of their problems…) is that they tend not to live in those bits.

    I’ve never been to Vancouver, but surely it’s much the same there? Addicts might shoot up in some snazzy parts of the downtown area, but if they’re living by a canal or underneath a flyover, or in some rough housing ‘project’ on the periphery, then life is going to be grim regardless of everything going on around them.

  10. @ CJA

    In the progressive dystopias of the west coast the addicts / homeless are living in or very close to the “snazzy” areas, which rapidly become unsnazzy. The same lunatic attitude that keeps dangerous convicts out of prison actively encourages street camping; they literally pay people to move in and be homeless.

    A lot of the drug problems in places like LA and SF are not problems with drug use but problems with marxists, who also have dopamine reward issues (which tolerance will not solve).

  11. The risks of heroin are often exaggerated. It is routinely used medically in the UK, where it would be referred to by its generic name diamorphine rather than its trademarked name. As Andrew M mentioned, lack of quality control is very dangerous. If it were sold like alcohol it would be quite acceptably safe.

  12. “The risks of heroin are often exaggerated”

    Bit puzzled by that statement. Having seen the damage that NHS administered Oxycontin did to my Mum, I’d probably feel safer buying my heroin from a dealer rather than getting it free from a hospital doctor.

  13. Dunno. My Mum was on morphine (another opiate derivative) for some years while the NHS tried to sort out hip pain. As is often the case, when the pain went away (not thanks to the NHS) then stopping the morphine was no problem.

  14. Go into the office in downtown Vancouver once a week at least
    Since Covid and the break up of the homeless camp the problem has spread into what for a while was an empty downtown
    Leaving the office in downtown Vancouver a couple of weeks ago there was someone smoking crack just outside the doors, smell of urine around doorways etc.
    Homeless and addicts used to be in an area around downtown east side, but have spread out into business areas.
    An example of issues in Vancouver is that fire service complained about homeless tents blocking fire doors and being a safety hazard so the council started to take action and clearing them away was shut down by activists within days, the council also recently issued an apology over the street cleaning crews (which have a police escort) moving personal possessions lying in the street. A police officer was killed checking on someone. Basic health and safety standards are being overridden.

  15. Re: Oxycontin

    Ah yes. Tim, we’ve got her off it, thanks to a vigilant GP ( they do still exist ) but they overdosed her at the hospital with all sort of horrific effects.

  16. A little more re the Alice Springs alcohol ban. The reason it had some effect was wicked Tony Abbott’s cashless welfare card system.

    Since the blokes couldn’t easily buy alcohol with the dole, the stuff was spent on food, clothes etc.

  17. Vancouver has had addicts for a long time. I visited there back in the 80s with the family. We went to Gastown (tourist area) and could look across the street to the “junkie area”, which yes had people lying down etc. At the time it was different drugs than today.

    From the news the abandonment of downtown due to COVID just meant the addicts spread out, since they weren’t interfering with the citizens.

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