Insite, a supervised injection site and drug addiction centre, is located in Vancouver, British Columbia. Insite provides a safe environment for drug users to use the narcotics they are addicted to without the dangers of getting infections like HIV/Hepatitis C from dirty needs or dying from a overdose.
Some facts about Insite:
- Insite opened in 2003.
- From 1990 to 2007 there were 4000 overdose deaths in British Columbia (none of these occurred at Insite.)
- Since Insite opened there has been no increase in drug use in the area.
- There has been a 70% decrease in needle sharing in the area since Insite opened.
- Injecting narcotics like cocaine and heroin publicly has decreased dramatically in the area from 2003 to today.
- The goal of Insite is to help addicts learn how to control drug usage with the long-term goal of getting off drugs entirely.
- Drug related crime has not increased in the area (trafficking, assault, robbery, vehicle related theft.)
A Timeline of Insite’s Legal status:
- In September 2006, the Federal Health Minister announced an extension to the site’s exemption that allowed Insite to operate for another 15 months.
In October 2007 the exemption was extended until June 30, 2008.
In August 2007, the PHS Community Services Society, the two Insite clients and Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users (VANDU) filed a statement of claim in BC Supreme Court seeking to have the court declare Insite the exclusive jurisdiction of the province and for the federal government not to play any role in its future.
In May 2008, the BC Supreme Court struck down the provisions of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act that deal with possession and trafficking but suspended the declarations of invalidity for one year to allow Parliament to bring the law into compliance with the Constitution, and the Court’s reasons, which ensure Insite a permanent constitutional exemption. The Attorney General of Canada appealed the decision.2010 On January 15, 2010, the BC Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal by the Attorney General of Canada, allowing Insite to continue operations.
On January 15, 2010, the BC Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal by the Attorney General of Canada, allowing Insite to continue operations.
Facts about drugs/crime in Canada:
- In 2007 the Violent Crime rate in Canada was at a 20 year low.
- Property crime is 40% less than 1991.
- First nations make up 3% of Canada’s population but 17% of Canada’s prison population.
- 11% of Canada’s fedral prison population is certified mental health patients at the time of incarceration.
- In 2008 the federal government paid $93 030 per prisoner – there are 13581 inmates in jail, at a cost of around $1 Billion.
- 2008 World Health Organization (WHO) report on 17 countries found no correlation between strict drug laws and fewer people using drugs.
- 2010 – Angus Reid Poll – 62% of Canadians support capital punishment for murders
- This is an increase from 2004 when it was 48%
- 65% support mandatory minimums for drug crimes
- The majority polled said they didn’t think they would be personally affected by crime/little chance of being victims of crime.
- Federal Treasury Board documents how that 73% of the $368 million the gov’t spent targeting illicit drugs in 2004-2005 was spent on enforcement (these percentages have not changed greatly from 2005-2010.)
- 7% research.
- 14% treatment.
- 2.6% prevention.
- 2.6% harm reduction.
- 50 000 Canadians are charged with criminal possession of marijuana a year.
- 1999 University of New Brunswick examined 50 studies on recidivism that covered more than 300, 000 offenders – the longer someone spent in jail, the more likely they were to commit another crime when they got out – most significant among non-violent/low-risk offenders.
- From 2006-2009 Stephen Harper’s government put forward 17 crime related bills.
Ottawa to appeal injection site ruling
The federal government is asking the Supreme Court of Canada for leave to appeal a lower court ruling that sanctioned Vancouver’s supervised drug injection site.
The case has raised important questions about the division of powers among federal and provincial governments that need answers, said Justice Minister Rob Nicholson on Parliament Hill Tuesday.
“The case we’ll be presenting before the court is to ask for clarification,” he said. “I think it is important to do that.”
Nicholson pointed out that there was a dissenting opinion in the lower court ruling. “I think it is appropriate for me to seek leave to appeal,” he said.
The minister agreed that drug addicts need assistance, pointing out that the federal government’s anti-drug strategy is aimed at prevention, and treatment for addicts.
The B.C. Appeal Court ruled Jan. 15 that provinces, not the federal government, have jurisdiction for health care, which includes services such as supervised injection sites for addicts of illegal street drugs.
The January decision upheld a lower court ruling, but the federal government is appealing on the basis that there was one dissenting opinion in the B.C. Court of Appeal ruling.
The Conservative government’s decision to launch an appeal is certain to disappoint proponents of the facility who had hoped that more injection sites could open in other cities.
Mark Townsend, executive director of Portland Health Society, which runs Vancouver’s Insite facility said, “The courts have now ruled twice in favour of Insite. Last time, they thought the feds were so out of line they made them pay all the costs.
“We wish [Prime Minister] Stephen Harper would stop wasting court time and the taxpayers’ money and start helping to solve the drug problem in our community,” he said in statement released Tuesday morning.
What Conclusions can be drawn from the Stephen Harper and the Conservative Party’s attack on Insite/their regressive crime policies?
Stephen Harper wants Vancouver property values to plummet:
Insite has been effective in reducing public drug use. Stephen Harper would prefer that heroin/cocaine addicts shoot up in down-town Vancouver. Closing down Insite would increase crime and public drug use in the Vancouver area, this would negatively affect property value in Vancouver.
Stephen Harper wants to waste tax-payer money:
2006 study from UCLA on Calfornia’s Substance Abuse and Crime Prevention Act (of 2000) concluded that investment in drug treatment actually saves the public $2.50 for every $1 put into the program.
Property crimes go up in areas with a 100% enforcement, 0% treatment policy in effect.
Keeping Canadians in jail is expensive and having non-violent criminals in jail leads to more crime which costs the tax-payer even more.
In California (a state with a population comparable to Canada’s) it has been estimated that legalization of cannabis would take in $1.2 Billion for California’s government. Canada has more cannabis users than California and could take that money to pay down the debt.
Prime Minister Harper has wasted tax-payer money challenging Insite in court.
Stephen Harper is soft on crime:
Gangs in Vancouver are funded by the sales of marijuana. The price of marijuana is artificially high and lets these gangs fund their Meth/Ecstasy labs. Prime Minister Harper’s policies keep these gangs well funded by keeping a drug less harmful than alcohol that results in zero reported deaths each year (less than caffeine) illegal.
Policemen have to waste enforcing cannabis/marijuana laws instead of going after criminals who produce dangerous narcotics like Methylamphetamines.
Prime Minister Harper’s jailing of non-violent/low-risk cannabis users will create more criminals.
Under Prime Minister Harper’s watch Canada has risen to 5th highest in amount of Meth exported.
Minister Nicholson said that the Conservative government is focusing on treatment but the government still spends the vast majority of money marked from fighting drug-crime on enforcement.
Stephen Harper wants to centralize government control:
Health Care is the responsibility of the provinces but Prime Minister Harper is going all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada to overturn a decision made by the government of B.C. This is the man who once advised the Premier of Alberta to “build a firewall” around his province. What else does Prime Minister Harper want to upload to the federal government?