Mayor pushes substitute drug program

Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan (previous posts here) says he was never committed to the safe injection site as a long term solution and would like to replace it with oral drug maintenance:

Vancouver will be able to close down its supervised-injection site for drug users once a new program for providing substitute legal drugs gets going, according to Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan.

“I would never see [the injection site] as a long-term solution,” said Sullivan. “We know there’s 90-per-cent Hep C and 30-per-cent HIV among injection drug users. The reality is needles are not a good way to take drugs.”

In spite of all of his “meeting them where they are at” “realism”, he fails to recognize that injecting drugs is a GREAT way to take drugs if your an active addict.

Sullivan’s hope is that within 18 months a minimum of 1,000 people will be getting substitute drugs in five separate trials. Two of the trials will provide people with a new substitute for heroin; the other three will supply different kinds of drugs that are being proposed as substitutes for cocaine and crystal meth.

“I believe that 1,000 [people in these trials] will not make the supervised-injection site redundant, that it still has a very valuable service for society as we transition. It needs to be there as an essential recruitment site for [the substitution trials.] But I do believe it is a temporary measure.”

He acknowledged that getting people to stop using needles may be difficult, because of the culture of drug-using in Vancouver that emphasizes “feel the steel.”

“But now what we’re asking is not that they ‘just say no’.

“It’s that they change the culture. It’s much more possible to ask people to change the culture of their drug use versus stop their drug use.”

Sullivan said he is spending a lot of his discretionary time and energy working on the project because “I see the payoffs for the citizens: dramatic reduction in crime, dramatic reduction in homelessness. I see many of the Project Civil City goals achieved in large part through [this].”