(Vancouver, TFN©) Canadian drug counselors are helping to fund health care and reduce addiction costs via a revolutionary initiative aimed at reducing drug crime.Within an outpatient counseling process, a Canada-wide program allows drug counselors to dispense addictive drugs, legal or not, at prices below street levels.
The new policy was implemented to reduce the policing, prison, theft and related costs of addiction, while removing drugs as the prime profit center for organized crime.Sales of the drugs to its patients allow the agency to offset its own costs, and some of the country’s health care budget as well.
Any taxpayer can make an appointment with a drug counselor to discuss the place of drugs in their lives, and receive a report outlining resources available to them.The most controversial amenities are the drugs themselves, many of which can be ordered from the drug counselor in quantities sufficient to last one week, at deliberately low prices.
The drugs are all of a pure pharmaceutical grade, and include cocaine variants, a standard-strength heroin, methamphetamine, marijuana, ecstasy and others noted more for abuse than their medical uses.There are socially respectable drugs on the list as well, and many of the agency’s patients do not fit the profile associated with “street people”.
Each ‘client’ must personally report to a secure neighborhood clinic, using a pass card to enter, where they are met and searched by security personnel.
Following a required fifteen minute appointment with a counselor, they pick up their weekly allotment from an onsite dispensary. A schedule of potentially addictive drugs known to be abused is provided;non-addictive drugs are not sold or dispensed.
Janet Wall, a spokesperson for the trial program in Toronto is quick to point out that this is not the junkie’s dream that it may appear to be.
“First, they have to be able to purchase the drugs –nobody rides for free- we simply undercut street prices.Second, they have to be responsible, that’s the key to the entire program. Responsibility begins with being a taxpayer, that’s absolutely a condition; they have to be a documented citizen.They have to undergo monthly blood tests to determine their health status and degree of usage.”
“This is a counseling program above all” she said, “and they must report on their circumstances continuously.Why are they doing this?Have they tried to quit in the past?What is their plan of action now? Responsibility means they will be removed from the program permanently if they ever resell their drugs.If they are convicted of driving while impaired, their car and license will be confiscated by a prior written agreement. Any criminal conviction disqualifies them. If they choose to continue or expand their abuse of drugs, they will be refused long-term care in government facilities, although they can continue to purchase drugs. So it’s a tradeoff they make, they have to come to terms with what they’re doing. ”
When asked whether the program was indeed paying for itself, Ms. Wall reiterated that it was doing far more than that.
“Drugs themselves are not illegal any more in Canada, but manufacturing, importing and dealing in them remains so.And we are taking the profit out of that sector significantly; we are retrieving net revenues 8 to 10 times higher than the actual costs of our program.There has been a huge decrease in policing costs, in homeless and mentally ill people in the streets, drug-related theft.And we’re not seeing people in hospitals for the wrong reasons nearly as much as we used to.Criminals are moving elsewhere; they can’t make a dollar here anymore.”
“Our supplier laws are much tougher now too,” she smiled “the government hates competition.”
Asked whether U.S. authorities are continuing to demand that Canada end the program, Ms. Wall smiled and said it was not her place to speculate on those matters.
“I deal with people, not politics.” She said. “Maybe Americans need another Lincoln who can emancipate the rights and responsibilities of the human body. Regardless, the citizens alone are accountable for their actions or abuses in that regard. It’s always been that way, this isn’t new.We’re just being more practical and expedient from the government’s perspective.”
The Canadian government will decide this year whether to maintain the trial as a permanent program dealing with the costs of drug abuse.