Legal rights to harm reduction rooted in – Constitutional rights – Human Rights codes – Rights under common law – Other statutes
Fighting restrictions to methadone and needle programs in communities Fighting criminalization of sex work Fighting for harm reduction in prison Fighting mandatory minimums Fighting for heroin assisted therapy Some of our harm reduction focused legal work
The Insite decision – one year later… The Supreme Court of Canada held that Vancouver’s sanctioned supervised injection site couldn’t be shut down Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto, Victoria, Edmonton, etc. have talked about the need for supervised injection, but none have been able to make it happen.
Ottawa, Toronto resist call for supervised injection sites – Globe and Mail, April 11, 2012 – Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair’s view that these sites will threaten public safety “comes from personal experience and from discussion with senior police leaders from around the world,” said police spokesman Mark Pugash. “This is not something he can support.” – Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson… said late last year he opposes a supervised injection site. Although previous administrations at Toronto’s city hall have supported harm reduction methods, Mayor Rob Ford is no fan of supervised injection sites. NIMBYism trumping legal rights?
Who makes decisions about what is appropriate health care? Zoning bylaws restrict access to methadone treatment. Fixed-site needle exchange in Victoria shut after public, media pressure. Abbotsford bans harm reduction outright through zoning Challenging restrictions on access to healthcare by municipalities on human rights grounds
Sex work decriminalization (& access to justice) Bedford v. Canada SWUAV v. Canada
Fighting mandatory minimums Mandatory sentences raise constitutional and human rights issues – Disproportionate impact to Aboriginal people, drug users, women, and low-income people – Cruel and unusual punishment – Infringement of liberty contrary to fundamental justice – Developing legal strategies around challenges
Fighting for needle exchange in prison In September, an individual and four organizations sued the federal government for failing to provide NSP in prison Are there violations of equality and protection of life, liberty and security of the person? Want court oversight of implementing program Pivot is applying to intervene in a coalition
Ethical issues of SALOME “Dual testing” of experimental drugs Cutting participants off treatment that is demonstrating benefits – No “exit strategy” – Bottom line is that research participants are arguably worse off than before participation Raising ethical issues and pressuring investigators to retain participants
Advocacy for HAT Developing community and government support to set up pilot program around heroin therapy Lobbying of municipal government, province, and health authority Working with drug users and support community to stand up for ethical treatment
Fighting for rights of people kicked off First SALOME patients are due to be kicked off of treatment in January Legal challenges for each participant
The Legal Fight for Harm Reduction Portland, November 17, 2012 Scott Bernstein, Lawyer Health and Drug Policy Campaign firstname.lastname@example.org @scott_bern Pivot Legal Society www.pivotlegal.org