Monday, July 14, 2008

Of Drugs And Trust And Money

Margaret Wente has a heart wrenching piece on the failure of harm reduction sites like Insite in Vancouver. Her main thesis is that harm reduction alone is useless, that governments should instead be treating addicts. My question is, what is stopping them? I always thought that places like Insite were just one pillar in a drug strategy, involving enforcement and treatment too. As far as I am aware, there is absolutely nothing stopping governments from properly funding treatment programs, now.

Her side of the aisle would have a lot more credibility for their argument if we on this side didn't have the sneaking suspicion that they want to close Insite for ideological reasons and have absolutely no intention of spending the money on treatment. Rather, as she herself alludes to in her article, I believe that she and her ideological cousins in the Conservative Party would close Insite and then declare a "drug war" on Vancouver. This war would be declared on street addicts since they are the easiest arrests and most visible symbols of the problem. The war would involve throwing them in jail without treatment. Given this government's lock'em up attitude, it is hard for anyone on the outside to envision another scenario.

I have a modest proposal for Ms. Wente and friends. Show us the money for treatment first. Work out deals with the provinces to set up expanded and comprehensive treatment programs first and let's see how it goes. Gather research that proves your way is working. Then we can talk about closing Insite. Don't ask us to trust you, you haven't earned it, yet.
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