The Supreme Court of Canada ruled today that the doors to Vancouver’s supervised injecting facility, Insite, will remain open. The landmark decision comes after the Supreme Court adjourned last May to deliberate on the future of the facility.
In their ruling, the Supreme Court noted "the experiment has proven successful. Insite has saved lives and improved health without increasing the incidence of drug use and crime in the surrounding area."
Some highlights from the Supreme Court ruling include:
Insite, North America’s first medically supervised injecting facility, has been open in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside since September 2003. The facility has 12 stalls where injection drug users can inject pre-obtained illicit drugs, using clean needles under the supervision of nurses.
Since opening in 2003, the facility has operated under a special exemption from the federal government. The facility was provided another exemption in 2006 by the Conservative federal government, to allow for further peer-reviewed research. However, they have since appealed court decisions that allowed for the continued operation of the facility.
In 2010 the B.C. Court of Appeal ruled that Insite falls under provincial jurisdiction, and that the federal government did not have the authority to shut down the facility. Federal officials appealed the ruling, bringing the matter to the Supreme Court.
An extensive body of peer-reviewed research led by the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS has demonstrated beyond question the facility’s profound positive impact on public health and order in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. The evidence, which has been published in the world’s leading scientific and medical journals such as The Lancet, the New England Journal of Medicine, and the British Medical Journal, is striking.
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