Canada seeks to appeal Vancouver drug site decision

Tue Feb 9, 2010 3:55pm EST
 
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OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada will ask the Supreme Court to overturn a lower-court decision that allowed North America's only sanctioned drug-injection site to remain open in Vancouver despite the federal government's objections.

Justice Minister Rob Nicholson said on Tuesday he would ask the Supreme Court of Canada for permission to appeal last month's British Columbia appeals court decision, which said addicts needed Vancouver's Insite facility as a medical service.

The previous Liberal government had granted Insite an exemption from federal drug laws, allowing it to operate on a medical trial basis since 2003.

The facility, which permits addicts to inject their own illegal drugs under supervised conditions, has become the focus of a battle between the current federal Conservative government, which wants to close it, and local health officials, who say it saves lives.

"When it comes to combating drugs, we want to get people off drugs," Nicholson told reporters, adding that the case would be argued on grounds of the division of powers between the federal and provincial governments.

Insite's supporters say it helps addicts reduce overdose deaths and gives drug users better access to services to help end their addictions.

(Reporting by Randall Palmer; Editing by Frank McGurty)

 
<p>A small kit of supplies containing syringes, bandaids and antiseptic pads waits to be used by a drug addict inside a safe injection site on Vancouver, British Columbia's eastside August 23, 2006. REUTERS/Andy Clark</p>