The Supreme Court of Canada’s unanimous decision to support Vancouver’s safe injection site is very encouraging, particularly in the present political context. Overall, the direction of Canada’s policy toward illegal drugs is depressing and frustrating. We are choosing the emulate the country with the worst drug policy in the developed world – the United States. We are pursuing a hopeless policy of prohibition, while trying to shut down options with a better chance of success, such as those that seek to reduce the harm associated with addiction.
Politicians often choose to cater to the irrational fears and biases of the general population. Judges are a bit freer to consider the ethics and evidence that bear upon a situation. That seems to be what the Supreme Court has done in this case:
During its eight years of operation, Insite has been proven to save lives with no discernible negative impact on the public safety and health objectives of Canada. The effect of denying the services of Insite to the population it serves and the correlative increase in the risk of death and disease to injection drug users is grossly disproportionate to any benefit that Canada might derive from presenting a uniform stance on the possession of narcotics.
Hopefully, this ruling will prompt a broader rethink of how Canada deals with drugs that are currently prohibited.