Canada Supreme Court Rules Vancouver's Safe Drug-Injection Site Can Stay Open

“Vancouver’s Insite clinic, the only such safe-injection site for [people who use drugs] in North America, can stay open, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled on Friday in a landmark defeat for the federal government,” Reuters reports. “The country’s top court … ruled unanimously that closing the site would threaten the lives of drug users and therefore violate their human rights,” the news agency writes (Ljunggren, 9/30).

Insite was opened in the city’s Downtown Eastside under “an exemption to federal drug laws … first granted in 2003 by the Liberal government and twice extended by the Conservatives, who have indicated they were unwilling to tolerate its operations further,” Ottawa Bureau/ writes. “When the case … came to the top court in May, federal lawyers admitted the government had no evidence to rebut the scientific research showing supervised drug injections save lives and reduce harm to addicts,” the news service notes, adding that a study published last April in the Lancet “showed deaths in the Downtown Eastside dropped … by 35 percent after the clinic opened its doors.” Other studies have shown that drug users who go to the facility are more likely to attempt to stop injecting drugs than drug users who do not, according to the news service (MacCharles, 9/30).