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OPINION

Democrats Plan Legal Heroin Shoot-Up Sites in Denver

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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Guillermo Arias

Operating on the questionable theory that the most compassionate way to treat drug addicts is to help them shoot up, House Bill 23-1202 would allow Colorado cities to open their own drug shooting salons where addicts can inject their opiate of choice (usually heroin, methamphetamine or cocaine) in a semi-private booth. This is called a “harm reduction site” as if helping addicts to keep injecting killer poisons into their bodies reduces “harm” to them. If the addict overdoses, onsite medical personnel would administer an antidote like Naloxone.  And that’s what the bill supporters call “saving a life.”  

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In 2018 the Denver City Council passed an ordinance to create an “overdose prevention center (OPC)” in the city. This bill gives needed legislative authorization for that to finally happen in the Colorado capital and every other city in the state. The measure’s language makes many happy-talk claims designed to rally support, but those claims are proved false on the streets of the brutal reality called InSite OPC, which opened in 2003 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.  

The first lie is the bill’s claim: “Overdose prevention centers are proven to save lives and increase community safety.” The centers do not prevent overdose; they merely treat overdosing addicts with drugs that temporarily halt their death. An addict may not die on the facility floor, but when drug users stagger out of the “safe” space, they often die behind a dumpster in a nearby alley or a store’s bathroom. The site decreases, not increases, community safety by accelerating crime and drug overdose deaths in the neighborhood.   

Here’s a short video by Ari Hoffman: “Injected – the truth about ‘safe’ injection sites,” which lays bare the horrific reality of Vancouver’s InSite, where friends inject friends in their jugular veins on the public street, and an employee tells the filmmaker she revived one addict from deadly overdose seven times in one day. 

 Although it’s painfully obvious that drug rehab is the only solution, InSite doesn’t suggest treatment unless the addict asks. 

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The young men, ex-addicts, who I interviewed at a Denver rehab center run by recovered users, told me they would typically inject drugs three or four times a day, and they would shoot up the minute they scored their drugs instead of taking a bus to some “safe site.” They laughed at the idea an injection site would have saved them. Only treatment can stop the ravaging of the mind and body, which is the addict’s terrible fate.  

And the tragic overdose death statistics bear them out. According to the British Columbia Coroners’ Service, in 2003, the year InSite was established, there were 190 overdose deaths. By 2018, the dead numbered 1380; by 2021 had risen to 2306. From 2003 when InSite opened, to 2018, overdose deaths in BC were up over 725%, and overdose deaths of minors 10-18 were up 260% in 10 years. Vancouver, Surrey, and Greater Victoria had the highest toxic drug death tolls. Drug dealers hang around the injection sites, knowing their victims will soon need another fix. 

Vancouver health authorities and the InSite injection facility have failed spectacularly to reduce rates of addiction, homelessness, and criminality in the neighborhood, which remains ground zero for overdose deaths in the region. In 2017, the City of Vancouver logged 8,000 overdose calls to emergency paramedic services. The Downtown Eastside (InSite) was responsible for 5,000 of the total, even with a population of only a few thousand residents. 

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The injection sites also become a magnet for drug addicts from other regions, just as Denver and Colorado have attracted a substantial population of ardent weed stoners.  According to a Simon Fraser University study, from 2005 to 2015, the number of homeless addicts

who had migrated to the Insite area from outside the neighborhood increased from 17 percent to 52 percent of the overall population. Concludes Christopher Rufo in his well-researched City Journal article, “In the name of compassion, public officials have created perverse incentives that are worsening homelessness, overdoses, and crime.”

Denver, a Sanctuary City ruled by Democrats for decades, is already a town in its death throes, beset by crime, car theft, dystopian radicals, homeless tent colonies of the mentally ill and addicted, gang thuggery, and the empty storefronts that mark a once thriving and beautiful town’s downward spiral. 

Yet the Colorado Democrat legislators advancing HB23-1202 preposterously claim “OPC’s…severely decrease in-public drug consumption, greatly reduce public litter of drug consumption equipment, and, in their surrounding neighborhoods, are associated with reduced crime.” 

Despite the enormous evidence flatly contradicting their flackery, the injection lobby has wrapped itself in a propaganda halo of compassionate “harm reduction” – it’s all about the love. Here’s Sam Rivera, director of the OnPoint NYC nonprofit that opened the nation’s first officially authorized “safe consumption” sites (note: “consumption” has replaced “injection”) in late 2021 for drug users: “You have to love on people who are struggling, love on people who are in the depths of drug use and offer them opportunities, and humanize a process that has been dehumanized.” What exactly about helping people stay on killer drugs is loving or humanizing? There’s a dangerously destructive delusion operating here. 

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There’s even a Maine-based “Church of Safe Injection” nonprofit fighting for “the rights and dignity of people who use drugs…and the closure of all prisons…” I would ask their priests – what kind of human being would help a fellow human keep shooting death into their veins on the long road to slow-motion suicide?  

Well, the “medical experts,” of course. Stunningly, the American Medical Association endorses hard drug injection sites as a tool to fight drug abuse. In 2020, they even filed an amicus brief in favor of Philadelphia’s proposed injection site when the courts blocked it.  

These same medical geniuses fight attempts in over 20 states to ban puberty-blocking drugs, genital mutilation surgery, and other “transgender-affirming care” designed to make boys into girls and vice versa - even for minors. 

By supporting hard drug shooting sites, these doctors are disgracefully abandoning their sacred duty to do no harm. 

Drug addiction, in reality, is harmful and suffering on a massive scale. Addicts lose everything – their health, free will, families, jobs, purpose for living, and ultimately, their minds and lives. They become shells of humans, reduced to stealing to fund their addiction, lying to friends and family, and scrounging for their next fix. A “harm reduction center” that keeps them on drugs prolongs their suffering, postponing their ugly, inevitable demise.    

Even the most radically progressive governor in the nation, Mr. Wokey Woke himself, Gavin Newsom, knows more about harm than the AMA. Last year the California governor vetoed legislation that would have allowed injection sites in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Oakland. Newsom feared that the sites could lead to a “world of unintended consequences,” noting that “worsening drug consumption challenges in these areas is not a risk we can take.” In other words, he’s probably seen the Vancouver body count. (https://www.usnews.com/news/health-news/articles/2023-02-02/safe-injection-sites-gain-a-foothold-in-u-s)

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In Colorado, we have a mini-me version of Gavin with our own Democrat Gov. Jared Polis. Re-elected in 2022, Polis, for years, has played Ginger Rogers to Newsom’s Fred Astaire. Like Gav, he’s trying to pose as a moderate for an inevitable POTUS run with such clever ruses as pretending to want to axe the state income tax and claiming his response to Covid was mild-mannered when he was a strict Lockdown Tyrant and Vax Shamer. He may well decide to veto HB23-1202 to burnish his moderate cred. But the last election gave the Democrats a veto-proof majority in the Colorado House and a near-majority in the Senate, so this could be a squeaker.    

The legislators bent on trashing Denver with injection sites will doubtless cite learned studies that insist they’re a really good thing. But a Huffington Post Canada article by Mark Hasluk revealed that the author of 33 glowingly favorable InSite studies over the years is Thomas Kerr, one of two officials of the British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/Aids whose Centre got $1.3 million from the government to create InSite in 2003 and have been paid $2.6 million by taxpayers to “study” the facility. Hey kids, can we say outrageous conflict of interest?  

Notes the HuffPo article’s author, there’s “a familiar narrative propagated by the BC Centre: InSite opponents are blinded by ideology, conservative moralist who care little about the poor and addicted. InSite proponents, on the other hand, are pure and unburdened, following the fact and relying on science.” He concludes, “There has never been an independent analysis of InSite.” Never.

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In response to their astronomical number of addict deaths, British Columbia health officials have reacted in typically jaw-dropping fashion by decriminalizing “small amounts of hard drugs (heroin, fentanyl, crack cocaine, ecstasy, and methamphetamines) in a move to stem the seemingly unstoppable tide of deadly overdoses.” Because this insanity from the drug enablers never stops. It’s not only sinister but deliberate. A stoned population is a passive population that is too drug-addled to care about much of anything, including the loss of their freedoms and futures. This is where HB23-1202 is going. Ironically, the only hope to defeat it may be Democrat Governor Jared Polis.     

Joy Overbeck is a Colorado-based journalist whose work has appeared in Townhall, American Thinker, The Washington Post, The Federalist, Front Page, Complete Colorado, and other media. Find her on Facebook and Twitter @joyoverbeck1. 

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