‘No” to Drug Injection Sites Akin to Outlawing Abortion, Prostitution, and Alcohol

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Streets of San Francisco. Photo Alex Mak

Through the millennia prohibition on drinking of alcoholic beverages, outlawing prostitution, and banning legal abortions has proven to be a failure. Prohibitions do not stop the use, but only drive these activities underground, increase crime, cause death and suffering, and put an unnecessary financial drain on the criminal justice system. In addition, illegal activities create criminals out of victims when in fact we are dealing with an educational and medical problem. America seems to have a severe chauvinism about The American Way always being superior, when in fact America has been proven out by more progressive nations to be inferior.

“As San Francisco Goes Eventually Goes the Nation”. San Francisco and Berkeley have always been at the cutting edge of progressive, just, and human policies. San Francisco has approved the first legally supervised drug injection site in Glide Memorial Church. The present Federal Government regime has an arcane un-enlightened view of how to repair addiction and drug trafficking issues. The “Feds” are taking a hard line against the above progressive policy saying that it will encourage young people to become addicted. What has caused addiction to drugs is complex. The causes are war veterans who came back addicted without getting proper medical intervention, addiction to “Big Pharma” drugs, placebo for depression and societal pain, poor mental health support services, poverty, etc.

Assistant Attorney General, Rod Rosenstein’s assessment of not allowing legal supervised drug injection sites is totally fallacious, unsupported by empirical evidence, and in my opinion politically motivated to pander to the ignorant fearful extreme Right Wing. There is an arcane 1986 law that needs to be qualified that makes unqualified drug dens and injection sites illegal. No one can argue with this 1986 law, but a qualification needs to be included that excepts legal supervised inject sites from this law.

The European models that have been proven to be successful in reducing drug abuse, overdose deaths, needle litter on streets, criminal justice costs, and human suffering should be widely replicated in American cities. The following is a link to a study on the effectiveness of legal supervised drug injection sites:

What is the effectiveness of supervised injection services?

An excerpt from the British NIH (National Institute of Health) states the following structure for legal injection sites:

Functions of medically supervised injecting centres

  • Enable safe oversight by the nursing staff of self-injection of street drugs in an explicitly clinical setting. Does not entitle staff to help drug users inject drugs
  • Open from morning to late evening to accommodate drug users who inject up to three times a day
  • Full range of resuscitation equipment (including intramuscular naloxone) is available to nursing staff
  • Ideally should form part of wider health promotion activities such as needle exchange, safer injecting advice, and training to prevent overdoses
  • Alert users to other treatment services
  • Ongoing liaison with local business, housing, and police services

If we follow the money we find that those who oppose this better solution to reducing drug addiction are law enforcement, prison guard unions, private prisons and vendors whose employment or revenue may be reduced due to the decrease in criminal activity resulting from a humane pragmatic medical non-punitive solution to reducing drug deaths, suffering, and drug-related diseases resulting from needle sharing, hepatitis, and HIV. Prohibition of alcoholic beverages in the nineteen hundreds proved to be a total societal disaster by increasing criminal justice costs, murder, gang activity, and depriving the government of tax revenue.

The punitive, poorly educated mindset in the main that is abundant in America has not proven to be successful in eliminating destructive unhealthy behaviors. “Imitation is the best form of flattery”, let’s just replicate the successful European models of drug abuse remediation and legally sanction “Supervised Drug Injection Sites”. While we are at it we should get on the bandwagon of approving National Healthcare which has been incorporated by 38 other developed nations. For many people who espouse “American Exceptionalism” why are we so stubborn, unenlightened, ignorant, chauvinistic, and resistant to policies which will make our overall society better? Drug policies, prostitution, and abortion are all medical and personal preference issues that are best dealt with by medical knowledge, proper supervision, education, and realistic adultlike views. It is only when one person causes forced harm to another that the criminal justice system should be included in the solution. I encourage Vallejo to open a supervised drug injection site.

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Harvey Rifkin

Harvey Rifkin

Harvey is a semi-retired businessman and S.F. Bay Area native. His major interests are human and civil rights, as well as geo-economic and political topics. One of his major passions is exposing government and corporate corruption, greed, and provable conspiracies such as "9/11", The Gulf of Tonkin Incident, etc. He has been published through the years in the Benicia-Herald and Vallejo Times-Herald.