Free Drugs

As many of my readers know, Vancouver has a serious drug problem. I’ve been meaning to mention a radical, inventive approach to this issue: free heroin. Here are several articles on the program.

The one-year study will allow some 450 addicts 25 and older to inject heroin up to three times a day. Then, they will have three months in which they are weaned off heroin, Sayers said.

I think this is a great idea. There have been similiar sucessful programs in the UK, Switzerland and the Netherlands. In Vancouver, this trial means that 160 people who otherwise might (heck, probably would) be engaged in criminal or other anti-social behaviour in order to obtain drugs won’t have to. Removing that aspect of their lives can only have a positive impact. They go from being disdained, desperate junkies to merely impoverished people with a treatable addiction.

Call me heartless, but I care more about the impact on our society than on these individuals. Heroin addicts who obtain their drugs illegally cause a burden on our policing and healthcare resources. For 160 people, this program eliminates half of this burden. Sure, I’d like these people to kick their habit, and this program will go a long way to helping them do that. But for now, safer streets are a good place to start.

UPDATE: While replying to a comment, I remembered what I forgot to mention earlier. I wonder if a lot of free heroin will have the same impact on the illegal drug trade as the RIAA claims file-sharing has had on the record industry. Profits will go down, drug runners will be released from their contracts–the drug dealing industry could see a serious contraction. Nice one.


  1. It is a very radical plan. I’m just happy to see serious consideration for new responses to the problem rather than the failed cycle of more pressure/less pressure through policing.

    The program benefits non-addicts affected by property crime, as well as the individual addicts by taking them out of the often dangerous quest for loot to sell or trade for a fix. The impact on society is an impact on individuals, since that is what society is made up of, so I’m not sure I follow the distinction of benefit.

  2. Indeed…my point wasn’t very clear. What I meant to say is that, ultimately, I’m not overly concerned as to whether people kick their addiction. If we can manage it and prevent them from turning to crime, that’s a satisfactory outcome.

  3. Totally. My personal politics have me caring a lot more about animals than humans, but both are important issues.

    The problem here is that nothing else–prison, rehab, you name it–seems to significantly affect Vancouver’s drug problem. They’re all useful strategies, but they’re not making much of a dent.

    This approach has an admirable track record and is a pretty revolutionary idea. It’s ideas like this that chance society, I think.

  4. so you’d be much happier with me if I was a herion addict rather than the occassional fois gras eater?

  5. Guess not. Anyway I only eat FG once every 5 years or so…-so I have decided to be guilt free 🙂 Now if you told me there was some rare disease in connection with eating FG I wouldn’t go near the stuff with a 70 foot pole.

  6. Ain’t that the truth. Point taken on the foie gras, but I don’t think you can claim that you regularly make ethical dining decisions any meal, can you?

  7. what? what else do I eat that is offensive to you? okay maybe the veal but you are right -ethics is probably the last thing I think about when looking at a menu.

  8. It doesn’t have anything to do with offending me. I’m merely proposing that people think about the implications of their eating choices. If they’re comfortable with them, then while I may try to convince them otherwise, then that’s the philosophical choice they make.

    My politics on this are pretty middle of the road, incidentally. I’m not advocating that people stop eating meat, etc. I suppose it’d be a good thing, but that’s not very practical. I just support the idea that the animals we consume deserve a cruelty-free life. And, I suppose, that our eating habits have a sustainable impact on the environment.

  9. I think about and am comfortable with my eating choices. But an A for effort on your part to change my mind 😉

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