NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


March 24, 2005

Just over the United States northwest border, addicts will soon be able to get their fix from the Canadian government in the form of free heroin administered by nurses and doctors. Supporters claim the program will prevent users from getting something irreversible like HIV, hepatitis C and overdose death.

  • Vancouver is the first city to take part in the North American Opiate Medication Initiative, which plans to enroll 470 participants at three sites in Canada.
  • The Toronto and Montreal sites are expected to begin recruiting candidates this spring.
  • In the program all addicts have to do to get their fix is show up three times a day seven days a week.
  • The $8 million Canadian program is patterned after similar efforts in Europe.

Vancouver Police Chief Jamie Graham is among supporters who say the heroin giveaway will let junkies shoot up without having to resort to theft or prostitution to buy their drugs. Breaking that cycle of crime, they argue, is the first step toward turning an addict's life around.

Recovered addict Chuck Swesey -- who's been clean 20 years -- says the program smacks of government drug pushing. He says he knows how he would've ended under a program like this: "I'd be dead ... or I'd be in a jail or an institution."

Source: "Vancouver Tries Free Heroin Program," Fox News, Monday, March 14, 2005.

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