I don’t believe we necessarily can prove the answer to this question, but a recent CNN article written by Adam Reiss, Health clinic helps addicts shoot up, talks about a program in Canada:
Inside the Vancouver facility, I found more than a dozen people taking illegal drugs, such as heroin and cocaine, under the watchful eye of trained nurses. These drug users were among the more than 700 people who visit the facility every day, bringing their drugs with them.
Insite's goal is to reduce the risk of overdose and limit the spread of diseases like HIV by giving addicts…
Defenders of the Vancouver clinic say more than two dozen peer-reviewed studies have shown its benefits. One study found a 45 percent reduction in public drug use as a result of the clinic; another showed 33 percent of addicts are more likely to go to detox after using Insite.
Dr. Thomas Kerr, a University of British Columbia research scientist who has studied the program, believes Insite benefits the wider community.
"In the absence of such a facility, not only would [drug users] be high out on the street, but they would be leaving their syringes in school yeards, in parks and on city streets," Kerr said.
Just a week or so ago, I was having a conversation with a fellow Austin criminal defense attorney about whether ‘decriminalization/legalization’ would reduce or increase crime.
Like me, he is strongly against our current Drug War policies, especially when it comes to imprisoning and using felony enhancement provisions in the Penal Code for drug possession cases – creating ridiculously long sentences, sometimes 25 years to life.
However, he argued that even heavily regulated but legal use of cocaine and heroin would automatically increase drug use itself, and also other crimes – mostly property crimes.
I’m going to go see if I can get my hands on those peer reviewed studies the article cites, and I’ll report back on this later.
My gut instinct is that crime would be reduced, but it’s not the part of my regular anti-Drug War speech; something I need to look into. (And there are plenty of other reasons to oppose out current policies.)
Update: Pete at DrugWarRant responds.