A few weeks ago, the Supreme Court of Canada validated the existence of safe injection sites for drugs after years of stalling from the federal government. It didn’t take much time for the Quebec minister of Health to jump on the bandwagon and announce that he would be favorable to using public funds to allow these safe injection sites.
I have to admit that I am skeptical, quite skeptical in fact, of such a decision. I have already argued the case here in a french article to the Prince Arthur Herald. Why am I skeptical? Well, here are the facts about safe injection sites
- They do reduce the frequency of death by overdose, however the number of lives saved barely inches about 1 life per year according to different reports (one by the EMCDDA in Europe and one by Health Canada);
- They do reduce the absolute number of notifications of AIDS and HIV, yet could a larger reduction be obtained by other means; and
- They do allow intervention in order to get addicts off drugs;
- There has been a considerable decline in the number of notifications of HIV and AIDS to drug addicts between 2001 and 2006;
- There has been a decline in the absolute number of deaths by overdose between 2001 and 2006;
- There has been a decline of consumption in certain population cohorts between 2001 and 2006;
- Similar results have been observed for the period from 2007 to 2009 in a paper published in the British Journal of Criminology and which confirms the results of the Cato Institute which are older.
- Relative to the rest of Europe, the trends observed in Portugal are quite different as the Cato paper contends. The more detailed results of the paper of the article published in British Journal of Crimonology show that relative to Spain and Italy, drugs consumption in the population aged 15-64 during the last twelve months increased at a slower pace. (see table below)