Vancouver set to offer free crack pipes
As it awaits a Supreme Court decision on the fate of its downtown drug injection site, Vancouver’s public health authority announced plans for a pilot project to give addicts free crack pipes.
Supporters say it will protect addicts from overdose and diseases such as HIV and bring them into the health-care system. Critics, meanwhile, say programs that emphasize harm reduction over abstinence or treatment are a quick fix for the complicated problem of drug addiction and are part of a broader push to legalize drug use.
“It gives politicians and other people an opportunity to say, ‘look we’re doing something.’ But I don’t think we’re seeing the benefits that were anticipated when a lot of people embraced this approach that emphasizes harm-reduction,” said Tom Stamatakis, head of both Vancouver Police Association and the Canadian Police Association. “I’ve been working in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside for at least 20 years and I can’t really say that things are much better there than they were 20 years ago.”
Vancouver Coastal Health, which funds the controversial InSite, North America’s only supervised drug injection clinic, said it was looking to launch a pilot project in the fall that would hand out free crack pipes to address a shift in the city’s drug culture away from drug injection and toward crack smoking, said medical health officer Dr. Réka Gustafson. (Photo: Gerry Kahrmann/Postmedia News)