Senate Bans Public Funds for Drug Safe Havens
Today, U.S. Senator Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina) made the following statement after the Senate unanimously passed his amendment to prohibit the use of taxpayer funds for cities that create safe havens for illegal drug users. The amendment was added to the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education appropriations bill.
"The Senate sent a clear message to cities that it's beyond ridiculous to ask Americans to pay for drug addicts to inject themselves with heroine and cocaine," said Senator DeMint. "The officials in San Francisco that gave credibility to this absurd idea should be embarrassed. This would undermine federal law and promote illegal behavior. These safe havens for drug users would only encourage more addiction and support the illegal drug market."
On October 18th, 2007, the San Francisco Department of Public Health sponsored a forum on the idea to create "safe injection centers" where intravenous drug users will be allowed to shoot up under the supervision of trained personnel, without fear of being arrested. As reported by the Associated Press, "City health officials took steps Thursday toward opening the nation's first legal safe-injection room, where addicts could shoot up heroin, cocaine and other drugs under the supervision of nurses."
This policy is in response to a failed needle-exchange program created in 1992. In August of 2007, the San Francisco Chronicle reported public outcry over used syringes littering parks and playgrounds. The city's needle-exchange program gives out 2.4 million needles a year and receives only 65 to 70 percent back after they are used.
In Australia, reports have indicated that its illegal drug injection program has encouraged drug addicts to experiment with higher doses of heroin, and mixtures of heroin and pills. Drug Free Australia has reported the injection centers experience massive numbers of heroin overdoses, measured between 36 and 42 times higher than normal rates of overdoses in the community.