Lifestyle & Belief

Vancouver drug injection site can stay open, Supreme Court of Canada rules

A safe drug-injection site in Vancouver can stay open, the Supreme Court of Canada has ruled.

The Insite clinic, which is located in Vancouver's poor Downtown Eastside, is the only safe injection site for drug addicts in North America, Reuters reports.

Funded by taxpayers, it was established in 2003 so that the thousands of intravenous drug users in the downtrodden Downtown Eastside area had a place to shoot up that provided clean needles, sterilized water and medical supervision. 

The Insite clinic has a federal exemption that permits illegal drug use. 

The victory is a defeat for Canada's Conservative government, which had argued that Insite promoted addiction, and keeping it open contradicted laws aimed at fighting illegal drug use.

"Insite has been proven to save lives with no discernible negative impact on the public safety and health objectives of Canada," the Supreme Court of Canada ruled, according to BBC News.

The court said in its ruling that closing Insite would threaten the lives of drug users and therefore violate their human rights. 

"It is also grossly disproportionate: the potential denial of health services and the correlative increase in the risk of death and disease to drug users outweigh any benefit that might be derived from maintaining an absolute prohibition on possession of illegal drugs on Insite's premises," the court ruled, according to Reuters.

The BBC says that it is thought the Supreme Court decision could pave the way for other safe drug-injection sites to open in Canada.