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San Francisco considers injection room

Old 10-19-07, 10:24 AM
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San Francisco considers injection room

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20071019/...sed_injections

SAN FRANCISCO - City health officials took steps Thursday toward opening the nation's first legal safe-injection room, where addicts could shoot up heroin, cocaine and other drugs under the supervision of nurses.
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Hoping to reduce San Francisco's high rate of fatal drug overdoses, the public health department co-sponsored a symposium on the only such facility in North America, a four-year-old Vancouver site where an estimated 700 intravenous users a day self-administer narcotics under the supervision of nurses.

"Having the conversation today will help us figure out whether this is a way to reduce the harms and improve the health of our community," said Grant Colfax, director of HIV prevention for the San Francisco Department of Public Health.

Organizers of the daylong forum, which also included a coalition of nonprofit health and social-service groups, acknowledge that it could take years to get an injection center up and running. Along with legal hurdles at the state and federal level, such an effort would be almost sure to face political opposition.

Bertha Madras, deputy director of demand reduction for the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, called San Francisco's consideration of such a facility "disconcerting" and "poor public policy."

"The underlying philosophy is, 'We accept drug addiction, we accept the state of affairs as acceptable,'" Madras said. "This is a form of giving up."

Sixty-five similar facilities exist in 27 cities in eight countries, but no other U.S. cities have considered creating one, according to Hilary McQuie, Western director for the Harm Reduction Coalition, a nonprofit that promotes alternative drug treatment methods.

"If it happens anywhere in the U.S., it will most likely start in San Francisco," McQuie said. "It really just depends on if there is a political will here. How long it takes for that political will to develop is the main factor."

Drug overdoses represented about one of every seven emergency calls handled by city paramedics between July 2006 and July 2007, according to San Francisco Fire Department Capt. Niels Tangherlini. At the same time, the number of deaths linked to overdoses has declined from a high of about 160 in 1995 to 40 in 2004, he said.

Colfax estimated that there are between 11,000 and 15,000 intravenous drug users in San Francisco, most of them homeless men. Like many large U.S. cities, the city operates a clean-needle exchange program to reduce HIV and hepatitis C infections.

Advocates plan to work on building community support for a safe-injection center, including backing from Mayor Gavin Newsom and the Board of Supervisors.

The mayor's spokesman, Nathan Ballard, said Thursday that although he does not want to discourage debate, he "is not inclined to support this program because, quite frankly, it may create more problems than it supposedly addresses."

In Switzerland, Spain and other European countries with such programs, the sites have been placed in existing public health clinics and created as stand-alone centers, said Andrew Reynolds, a program coordinator with San Francisco's city-run sexually transmitted diseases clinic.

Possible locations for opening one in the city include homeless shelters, AIDS clinics or drug treatment centers, he said.

"They aren't these hedonistic dens of iniquity," Reynolds said. "There is no buying or selling of drugs on the premises. Staff do not assist in injections."

While it's too early to tell what the room in San Francisco would look like, Vancouver's InSite program is on the upper floor of a low-rise building in a downtown neighborhood where drug users shoot up in the open.

The site, exempt from federal drug laws so users can visit without fear of arrest, has 12 private booths where addicts inject drugs such as heroin, cocaine or crystal. They can use equipment and techniques provided by the staff, and then relax with a cup of coffee or get medical attention in the "chill out" room where they are observed, said program coordinator Sarah Evans.

"It looks kind of like a hair salon," Evans said of the bustling space. "If we were a restaurant, we would be making a profit."

While 800 overdoses have occurred on the premises, none resulted in death because of the medical supervision provided at InSite, said Thomas Kerr, a University of British Columbia researcher who has extensively studied the program. His research also has shown an increase in addicts seeking drug treatment and a decrease in abandoned syringes, needle-sharing, drug-related crime and other problems since the clinic opened, he said.

The results indicate the idea is worth replicating, despite the criticism it may attract, Kerr said.

"I prefer the approach of the Vancouver Police Department, which was: 'We don't like the idea of this, but let's look at the evidence and at the end of three years we will tell you either this is something we can support or it's something we can't support,'" he said.

Temple University law professor Scott Burris told the audience at Thursday's forum that a supervised injection room would seem to run afoul of federal drug possession laws and a state statute that makes it illegal to operate a crack house or any place where drugs are used, but only if the police and federal agents enforce them.

He cited as an example California's medical marijuana law, which has allowed pot dispensaries to flourish but at the risk of being raided by federal authorities.

"The law isn't a barrier," Burris said. "The issue of whether it's legal doesn't come up until somebody is arrested."

If you're going to do this why not just legalize drugs and be done w/ it.
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Old 10-19-07, 10:29 AM
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Just run it as proposed for a couple of months, then one day just start euthanizing them and taking the bodies out the other door. Soylent Green is junkies!!!!
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Old 10-19-07, 10:31 AM
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Originally Posted by nemein
If you're going to do this why not just legalize drugs and be done w/ it.
I'm sure they would if they could. Conservatives bitch and moan about "community standards" and the like, what's different about this?
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Old 10-19-07, 10:31 AM
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Originally Posted by nemein


If you're going to do this why not just legalize drugs and be done w/ it.

Because it is quite clear that the states really have no control over drugs whatsoever, bullshit though that may be.

I would expect that were this to occur, that the feds would quickly swoop in.
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Old 10-19-07, 10:31 AM
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Well, there will be some restrictions in place. Such as not being allowed to wear a military uniform inside.
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Old 10-19-07, 10:57 AM
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That will encourage them to stop.
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Old 10-19-07, 11:00 AM
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Originally Posted by nemein
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20071019/...sed_injections




If you're going to do this why not just legalize drugs and be done w/ it.
We should legalize drugs in this country. The prisons would be a lot less crowded.
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Old 10-19-07, 11:04 AM
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Originally Posted by VinVega
We should legalize drugs in this country. The prisons would be a lot less crowded.

Or....we could legalize everything and not need prisons at all.
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Old 10-19-07, 11:26 AM
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Originally Posted by VinVega
We should legalize drugs in this country. The prisons would be a lot less crowded.
I wouldn't want those junkies out and about doing who knows what. Why not give them as much drugs as they want till they OD.
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Old 10-19-07, 11:38 AM
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Originally Posted by nemein
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20071019/...sed_injections




If you're going to do this why not just legalize drugs and be done w/ it.
Good question - it's about time we focused on drug harm reduction as opposed to drug use reduction

Most drug related crime is a direct result of prohibitionist policies. Murder and violent crime skyrocketed during alcohol prohibition (and then fell as soon as it was repealed). It seems we didn't learn our lesson the first time though.
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Old 10-19-07, 11:41 AM
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Originally Posted by Birrman54
Good question - it's about time we focused on drug harm reduction as opposed to drug use reduction

Most drug related crime is a direct result of prohibitionist policies. Murder and violent crime skyrocketed during alcohol prohibition (and then fell as soon as it was repealed). It seems we didn't learn our lesson the first time though.
Moralistic, meddling do-gooders who want government policy to follow their own personal agenda of what's right and wrong typically don't learn lessons.
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Old 10-19-07, 12:00 PM
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Stupid.

Reminds me of when the Baltimore mayor started a program to hand out clean needles to junkies. They're blatantly accomodating users of illegal drugs and enabling junkies.
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Old 10-19-07, 12:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Ranger
Reminds me of when the Baltimore mayor started a program to hand out clean needles to junkies. They're blatantly accomodating users of illegal drugs and enabling junkies.
Maybe they're dealing with a social problem the best way they can?
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Old 10-19-07, 12:03 PM
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They need to give as much free drugs(as the junky wants) as well. When the junkies overdose, it'll solve the junky problem and the homeless problem.
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Old 10-19-07, 12:03 PM
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Originally Posted by VinVega
We should legalize drugs in this country. The prisons would be a lot less crowded.
I heard an interesting interview with someone who stated that our prison population isn't really that disproportionate to other Western countries. It's just that we don't put nearly as many people into treatment hospitals. If you take the number of people in prison+hospitals and compare it to our incarceration rates, the numbers are roughly comparable.

I have no idea if this is true and I have to desire to check it out, so maybe someone else can.
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Old 10-19-07, 12:04 PM
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Originally Posted by wendersfan
Moralistic, meddling do-gooders who want government policy to follow their own personal agenda of what's right and wrong typically don't learn lessons.
You just have to listen to a ONDCP press release to realize that: Drugs are cheaper and more available than ever, stay the course!
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Old 10-19-07, 12:08 PM
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Originally Posted by bhk
They need to give as much free drugs(as the junky wants) as well. When the junkies overdose, it'll solve the junky problem and the homeless problem.
Truly you are a modern-day Hippocrates!
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Old 10-19-07, 12:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Tracer Bullet
I heard an interesting interview with someone who stated that our prison population isn't really that disproportionate to other Western countries. It's just that we don't put nearly as many people into treatment hospitals. If you take the number of people in prison+hospitals and compare it to our incarceration rates, the numbers are roughly comparable.

I have no idea if this is true and I have to desire to check it out, so maybe someone else can.
If you include treatment hospitals in foreign nations that might be true.

I know that we basically imprison more people per capita than any nation besides Russia. We have 6 times as many prisoners as the entire EU combined. California incarcerates more people than France, Great Britain, Japan, Germany, Singapore and the Netherlands combined.

We have about 5% of the world's population and about 25% of its prisoners. Since 1980 while violent crime plummeted nationwide, the # of drug prisoners increased sevenfold. In 1998 58% of federal prisoners were serving time for drug offenses - we arrest more people for marijuana possession than for murder, assault, rape and robberies combined.
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Old 10-19-07, 12:10 PM
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Originally Posted by JasonF
Truly you are a modern-day Hippocrates!
For some reason I don't think bhk spends a lot of time volunteering at free clinics.
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Old 10-19-07, 12:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Birrman54
If you include treatment hospitals in foreign nations that might be true.
Well, that's what I'm saying. Foreign countries tend to put their drug users into treatment hospitals. We tend to put our drug users into prison. But the numbers are rougly comparable.
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Old 10-19-07, 12:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Ranger
Stupid.

Reminds me of when the Baltimore mayor started a program to hand out clean needles to junkies. They're blatantly accomodating users of illegal drugs and enabling junkies.
I think you're referring to Kurt Schmoke - god forbid we have a rational and pragmatic approach to the drug problem. Instead we should see how well increased police interdiction and arrests have improved Baltimore's streets - oh wait.
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Old 10-19-07, 12:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Tracer Bullet
For some reason I don't think bhk spends a lot of time volunteering at free clinics.
Don't really have to. We write off a lot of treatment. So, while I don't question your behavior at bath houses, you shouldn't question what I do for charity without knowing facts.
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Old 10-19-07, 12:14 PM
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Originally Posted by bhk
Don't really have to. We write off a lot of treatment. So, while I don't question your behavior at bath houses


Seriously? I mean, really?
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Old 10-19-07, 12:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Tracer Bullet
Well, that's what I'm saying. Foreign countries tend to put their drug users into treatment hospitals. We tend to put our drug users into prison. But the numbers are rougly comparable.
It seems probable, I doubt that only Americans love to use drugs. Perhaps someone could find those numbers - it's certainly a more rational policy. I recall a program that said due to the War on Drugs our prison system has basically become the primary holding area for the country's mentally handicapped.

Obviously treatment in health facilities is going to be more effective in the long term, would reduce prison overcrowding and violence, would allow addicts to hopefully return to somewhat productive lives, etc. I say obviously, but apparently it must not be.
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Old 10-19-07, 12:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Tracer Bullet


Seriously? I mean, really?
You see the humor in my statement(which is the way it was meant) but fail to see how utterly uninformed your own post was?
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