No crack pipes

Making it easier for vulnerable people to use damaging addictive drugs is not often a campaign plank for politicians; nor does it turn up as a pronounced goal for health officials.

Yet that’s precisely the effect of the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority scheme to give out free “safer-use crack kits” to crack cocaine users.

This is the taxpayer as enabler.

Opinions vary greatly about the idea of needle exchanges and “shooting galleries” for heroin users; these too enable addicts. They are defended by some on the grounds that a re-used injection needle is a superhighway for HIV and other dangerous viruses.

The Winnipeg medical officer of health, Dr. Margaret Fast, claims the same virtue for her crack kits – glass pipe, screens, alcohol swabs, matches, even a pipe cleaner – saying shared pipes, like shared needles, can spread disease. “If you’re sharing pipes or if you’re having oral sex with someone, that could lead to transmission of these agents.”

Maybe. But crack can also lead to death by overdose, suicide, accident, or confrontation with police.

And what a slippery slope! Should government also provide the drugs, so that addicts don’t have to meet dangerous and rapacious dealers?

Helping people to ruin their lives “safely” is not a suitable object of government policy.

Source: The Gazette (Montreal) September 7, 2004 Tuesday SECTION: EDITORIAL / OP-ED; Pg. A18

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