Drug Addiction: Sickness or Criminal Act


Where I live, rulings by the Supreme Court of Canada are the end of the road. The buck stops there. If you can’t get justice within the lower court system or through the vast array of Government legislation, the Supreme Court is where you should find it.

My concept of Supreme Courts is that they judge upon the more contentious issues in life; the kinds of issues that are the most important to the populace and thus, they ultimately reflect the current mood of the people they represent.

Last week, in what has been quoted by the Montreal Gazette as a “landmark decision”, the nine judges of the Canadian Supreme Court ruled unanimously on a matter which has been festering in the Canadian Consciousness for years. This is the matter of “Insite”, the safe drug injection site for intravenous drug users in Vancouver, which has been operating “illegally” for eight years now under the umbrella of the British Columbia health system as a health care facility.

The federal government, in its zeal to enforce the national criminal code and shut down the site which it considers to be a criminal operation, decided to push the issue all the way to the Supreme Court where their lawyers’ arguments have been “shot down in flames” in this unanimous decision.

So, at least in Vancouver, safe injection sites will fall under the watch of the Provincial health care system rather that the Federal criminal code which seems to consider addicted drug users as criminals rather that ill human beings who are in need of assistance.

When I read the news of this decision, it occurred to me that there is a complete disconnect between our current governments’ awareness and the mood of the people. If the Supreme Court reflects the current mood of the people and decides that this safe injection site is a health issue rather than a criminal issue, why didn’t the government recognize this years ago and take steps to change the legislation which would have negated the need to go to the Supreme Court?

The reason, in my opinion, is that Governments are addicted to increasing their legal control over the citizens. It’s what they do best. This is why we have more and more laws every year. The income tax act is an excellent example. It has become so complicated that the average person has to hire a professional just to fill out complicated forms that should be very simple.

The government could have changed legislation that would have effectively meant giving up Federal legal control over the operation of the Insite Facility to the Provincial Government but it chose not to. Giving up control is not what governments like to do so they left it up to the Supreme Court to do it for them all the while keeping their fingers crossed, hoping the ultimate decision would be in their favour.

Where would we be if we didn’t have our beloved Supreme Court and the nine judges who, hopefully, make their decisions based upon wisdom rather than partisan Politics?

Thank you Supreme Court of Canada for a very wise decision!

Link to the very well written and concise Montreal Gazette article on this Supreme Court decision: http://www.montrealgazette.com/health/Safe+injection+sites+Montreal+Plan+carefully/5503366/story.html.

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5 comments on “Drug Addiction: Sickness or Criminal Act

    • This decision has affirmed my faith in the Canadian judges of the Supreme Court. The decision for them was “apply the Health Act or the Criminal Act”. In this case, although their were legal issues involved, I believe the bottom line is: they were reflecting the mood of the people. The laws regarding drug use in our society are draconian and not conducive to a peaceful society.

  1. Intervention is a process of bringing together a amalgamation of people who have been affected by the actions of the dependent, in a unbiased site. This party is then urged to address the drug user to tell him as to how each person in the group has been influenced. This expectantly enables the drug abuser to face up to the fact that he has got a problem and to seek help.

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  2. I think safe injecting rooms are a good move and should be expanded. As well as providing a safe place, they put users in touch with health care workers, which may lead them to seeking treatment, it also takes away any of the glamour or excitment that might be associated with drug use. Drug addiction is a health problem and the sooner we start treating it as such the better.

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