It is a strange enough experience to see a senator advocating for state-sponsored and controlled injection sites for drug addicts. But B.C. Senator Larry Campbell goes a step further into radical territory, saying the government should even supply the drugs.
It’s the most natural thing in the world to react negatively to such a notion. It seems bizarre and counter to common sense. But Campbell and others like him – who have a more intimate view of the depths and intricacies of the addictions scourge – have arrived at certain conclusions that regular folks observing things from a distance don’t. It goes something like this: Forcing (or at least allowing) drug use to stay underground is resulting in a) a lot of deaths by overdose, disease, etc. and b) a lot more deaths through drug crime and c) a lot of property crime committed by addicts looking for cash.
The crime wave sparked by the drug epidemic is scaring the daylights out of a lot of people. It has turned Edmonton into a ‘murder capital’ of sorts. It appears to be out of control and getting worse. So why not try something radical if all the usual measures aren’t working? Because they aren’t.
There are big questions underlying all this that defy easy answers. The biggest: Why this lust for taking drugs? What is wrong with us? Why don’t we smarten up and just say ‘no’?
If only it were that simple. Millions have been expended on prevention and enforcement. Billions, probably. It isn’t working.
Campbell and others, looking at this, say it’s obvious we can’t stop these people from shooting crap into their veins, or ingesting it. But by providing injection sites and free dope, we can save lives and reduce crime. Apparently it’s being done elsewhere, with decent success. Switzerland and Portugal have been offered as examples. If the goal is to keep people alive and reduce crime – a radical new approach is needed. If the goal is simply to punish wrongdoers…. Well, we’ve seen where that has got us.