Legal heroin injecting room to open in Sydney, Australia FWD

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Tue, 27 Jul 1999 22:13:55 -0700 (PDT)


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FWD  Reuters - July 27, 1999

Australia state to try legal heroin injecting room

SYDNEY, July 27 (Reuters) - Australia will open its first legal heroin
injecting room in Sydney's notorious red-light district next year on an
experimental basis.

The 24-hour, seven-day-a-week injecting room will open in the Kings Cross
district in the first half of the year and be run by The Sisters of Charity
and St Vincent's Hospital for an 18-month trial, New South Wales state
premier Bob Carr said on Tuesday.

``The point about this is to get heroin use off the streets, out of the
laneways (alleys)...,'' Carr told reporters. ``And yes, on the way through
we might save a few lives.''

In May, an illegal heroin injecting room opened in Kings Cross at the
Uniting Church Wayside Chapel, a run-down haven for Sydney's homeless and
desperate. The controversial injecting room was temporarily closed by
police, but later allowed to re-open.

The Chapel's injecting room is allowed to operate because drug users are
not aided, merely given a safe place to use heroin.

Aiding the self-administration of an illegal drug carries a penalty of two
years in jail, a A$2,200 (US$1,450) fine or both.

As part of a state government review of drug policies, Carr also announced
a trial of cautioning for cannabis use and a compulsory treatment programme
for low-level drug users.

But Carr said his government had decided not to decriminalise cannabis and
legalise the act of injecting a prohibited drug, options included in a
report following a May drug summit.

If the heroin injecting room experiment and the cannabis cautioning
programmes worsened the drugs problem, they would be scrapped, he added.

The experiments did not represent a softer attitude towards drugs, Carr
said, noting his government had introduced laws that could mean life
imprisonment for major drug dealers.

``There's no softening here. The community wants us to say to large-scale
dealers of hard drugs: 'If we apprehend you going about your dirty business
you will die in jail','' Carr said.

``But they want us to be compassionate with people whose lives are degraded
by drug dependency. They want us to offer a carrot and stick to getting
those people out of the cycle of drug dependency and crime.''

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