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Friday, 30 September 2011

INsite ruled legal - Supreme Court unanimous decision

The surpreme court has unanimously affirmed the BC court of appeals decision that INsite is a health facilty and directed that the Minister of Health grant an exemption to drug laws. http://scc.lexum.org/en/2011/2011scc44/2011scc44.html 

Some key quotes from the decision:
"The Minister’s decision, but for the trial judge’s interim order, would have prevented injection drug users from accessing the health services offered by Insite, threatening their health and indeed their lives."
"during its eight years of operation, Insite has been proven to save lives with no discernable negative impact on the public safety and health objectives of Canada.  The effect of denying the services of Insite to the population it serves and the correlative increase in the risk of death and disease to injection drug users is grossly disproportionate to any benefit that Canada might derive from presenting a uniform stance on the possession of narcotics.
"On future applications, the Minister must exercise that discretion within the constraints imposed by the law and the Charter, aiming to strike the appropriate balance between achieving public health and public safety.  In accordance with the Charter, the Minister must consider whether denying an exemption would cause deprivations of life and security of the person that are not in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.  Where, as here, a supervised injection site will decrease the risk of death and disease, and there is little or no evidence that it will have a negative impact on public safety, the Minister should generally grant an exemption."

Great news for INsite and hopeful news for other Canadian cities that have come to value the benefit that Vancouver has achieved through the presence and utilization of the safe injection site.

The question of the day, will the current government willingly recognize and permit the utilization of other facilties?   A smart government wanting to win the war on drugs, will acknowledge that successful drug policy includes harm reduction and treatment - something that supervised injection provides, or at least provides the avenue to rehabilitation. 

Now, is the current government smart enough to see this?

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