Wednesday, January 4, 2012


Here in La la Land, there are only two journalists who "get it." Jon Ferry, columnist and editor at the Province newspaper and Mark Hasiuk columnist at the Vancouver Courier, regularly decry harm reduction strategies and write in strong support of abstinence-based prevention & treatment.

This is Jon's column from today:

When it comes to giving drug addicts taxpayer-funded services, there's a fine line between providing them with health care and enabling them to continue their destructive and unhealthy lifestyles.

Many Province readers clearly feel that the Vancouver Coast-al Health Authority has crossed that line with its decision to hand out free crack pipes in the Downtown Eastside.

As Province reporter Cassidy Olivier has noted, it's part of a trial program to reduce injuries to addicts' lips and mouths that can make them more susceptible to hepatitis B and C and even HIV.

The pipes will be included in 60,000 drug kits that are expected to be distributed over eight months. The health authority says this will help steer the crack smokers toward detox services.

Let's hope it does. Crack cocaine is a scourge on society and a major cause of crime and other human misery.

However, we're inclined to agree with the Drug Prevention Network of Canada, a national anti-drug group, that the public authority should focus much less on "harm reduction" and far more on drug treatment and prevention.

This, of course, is not a clear-cut issue. And we sympathize fully with health professionals who are anxious to save lives and curb the spread of disease in the notorious skid-row district.

Our view, though, is that one of the reasons why the Down-town Eastside has such deep-seated social problems is that well-intentioned but naive community leaders have not only allowed drug use to flourish, but even encouraged it.

Indeed, some go so far as to argue that our tolerant attitude toward drugs is one reason why Vancouver is such a great city.

But if it's so great, why do so many people seem to need to use them? That's the question we should all be asking.

You can write Jon a THANK YOU at