Filed under: Drug Politics
A B.C. Court of Appeal has upheld an earlier B.C. Supreme Court ruling deciding drug users should have a fundamental right to health services such as Vancouver’s safer injection site, InSite. This is a major legal ruling legitimizing harm reduction services since the federal government had been trying to find a legal way to shut down InSite.
What isn’t much reported, or even realized, is that there were several legal arguments, and sub-arguments, within this so-called InSite case. What is reported is the main one about InSite staying open (drug users shouldn’t be denied relevant health services simply because they use illicit drugs). However, two Vancouver drug users made a very fundamental, and radical, legal argument which hasn’t received much attention at all.
These two drug users with VANDU argued that not only should the drug laws not cause a service like a safe injection site to be closed, but more fundamentally, they posited that the current drug laws themselves cause much greater harm to the community than benefit. As such, not only should InSite remain as a service, but society needs to recognized what is really causing the harms that make services such as InSite so necessary. They were asking the court to decide that the drug laws themselves are harmful and that they stand contrary to people’s fundamental right to health and well-being.
VANDU is taking a broader position, arguing that by using the criminal law to protect people from the harms of addictive substances the federal government has actually created a regime that is far more harmful, and violates the principles of fundamental justice in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
– from Dead People Don’t Detox
Essentially the judges dismissed this radical position, stating that it wasn’t really necessary to make such a sweeping determination, in order for them to rule on the question of whether InSite should be regarded as a fundamental health service for drug users.
InSite has received an enormous amount of community support and now won a second legal victory, however it is expected that the Stephen Harper’s Conservative-dominated federal government will likely still challenge InSite at the Federal Supreme Court level in its reactionary efforts to shut it down (Rudy Giuliani spews some crap also).
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