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The war on drugs cannot be won
There is a growing international consensus that a different approach to drug legislation is needed. Ireland is beginning to wake up too…
The Whole Hog, 16 May 2012
Readers of a literary bent will have noted the inclusion of British author Jon McGregor’s wonderful novel Even The Dogs in the shortlist for the IMPAC award. Purists rightly celebrate the work for its literary mastery. But it’s equally worthy for its powerful evocation of the lives of a marginalised group of people, mainly drug abusers. It brilliantly captures the tedium, the grim routines and the awful monotony of their scrabbling passage through the streets.
Their doppelgängers fumble through Irish cities, and especially Dublin, in a similar way, clutching plastic bags and soda bottles and addressing urgent business in tones of high-pitched complaint. Does methadone tighten vocal chords? It sounds as though it does…
Internationally, there is a growing movement against the absurd waste, expense and ultimately the failure of the so-called ‘War on Drugs’. In Canada, for example, researchers have argued that drug abusers should have safe, supervised facilities at which to take their drugs. The research team was led by Drs Ahmed Bayoumi of St. Michael’s Hospital and Carol Strike of the University of Toronto. The latter is an expert in the study of health and social services for marginalised populations, in particular people who use drugs.
These authors say that such facilities would improve health and reduce harm among people who use drugs, and – of equal importance – could also reduce public drug use. They would also, as a beneficial side effect, disrupt the relationship between criminal gangs and users.
The report was funded by the Ontario HIV Treatment Network and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and is believed to be the broadest ever study of its kind.
The views expressed in the study relate closely to those quoted in ‘To Prohibit Or Not To Prohibit - That Is No Longer The Question’, an article by Brigid Pyke in the Spring 2012 edition of Drugnet Ireland, which is published by the Health Research Board. Unlike the Toronto report, this is a review of research rather than a report of new research. But it is no less fascinating for that.