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Drug use rooms to open 'soon'

Minister says plans have been supported by towns from both Right and Left - but UMP says it would 'trivialise drug use'

"SHOOTING galleries" - where drug users can inject themselves with their own drugs using clean needles and under medical supervision rather than in the street - could open in France before the end of the year.

Health Minister Marisol Touraine said that several towns "from both Right and Left" had said they were "ready to get involved" and open such trial units.

She said she was looking at the conditions that would need to be met and added that the plan did not have to be a political football.

But, coming just a few days after the controversy over Education Minister Vincent Peillon's revelation that he wanted cannabis laws to be eased, her comments were criticised by the opposition UMP party.

UMP national secretary Camille Bedin said such shooting galleries would "trivialise drug use and legalise usage of the hardest drugs at the taxpayer's expense".

However, Rama Yade - a member of the new UDI centrist party and former Sarkozy government minister - said it "was a sign of pragmatism and openness of spirit" but added that the "principle of making drugs more accessible is an aberration".

Last month a poll showed 55% of people rejected the plan for drug consumption rooms (DCRs), which was a pledge in President Hollande's election campaign.

In the UK, a trial between 2005 and 2009 where registered addicts were given heroin to be injected in drug rooms was declared a success with local crime and drug dealing reduced.

Such DCRs have already been set up in Switzerland, the Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Luxembourg, Norway, Canada and Australia but the UK trial was not extended.
Photo: iceteastock - Fotolia.com

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