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Germany: We Demand: Heroin To Be Provided By The State 

Pubdate: Tuesday, 16 June 1998 Source: Die Tageszeitung
Mail: taz, die tageszeitung., Postfach 610229, 10923 Berlin
Translation by: Susanne Schardt

Die Tageszeitung is a respected left of center national newspaper in Germany.


[followed by photos of the following people plus a statement from them:]

Horst Kruse, Police chief Bielefeld: "Traditional drug policy has failed. I believe, heroin provided by the state will initiate a change. Like it is in Zurich. Where drug addicts do not have to spend their time with chasing after drugs. Acquisitive criminality and offences form 20% of the all criminal offences which could then be curbed as well as social and health depravation. The problem of addiction would, of course, remain the same, but this is not to be solved by police efforts anyway."

Hans Dieter Klosa, police chief Hannover: "Since I started my work as police chief in Hannover, I voted for giving heroin to long term drug addicts. Traditional drug policy has lead us into a dead-end street. What we have to combat most nowadays is acquisitive criminality. But we cannot just accept that this forms such a large percentage of all criminal offences. Today, 60% of all robberies are committed by drug addicts - and that is only because of the wrong policy."

Volker Haas, police chief, Stuttgart: "Drug demand reduction can only be effective, if we reduce the demand of drugs with the help of providing medical care for drug addicts. A legal frame and a policy that demands hundreds of drug deaths per year does not serve human rights and has to be changed." ( Haas has faced a number of serious problems because of his point of view. He does not speak out in public about this topic any more, but "I certainly have not changed my mind about this." )

Dierk Henning Schnitzler, police chief, Bonn: "No matter how much repression we use - we will not be able to destroy the drug market. Instead we rather increase drug prices. It is a question of humanity to help drug addicts, because they suffer from a serious desease. Methadone can curb the withdrawal syndromes, but it does not solve the actual problem. With the controlled prescription of clean drugs, our society can lead drug addicts back into a decent life."

Ernst Uhrlau, police chief Hamburg: "Together with the putting in force legal regulations for the medically controlled heroin prescription to long term drug users, also consumer rooms with a clearly defined legal status will provide a necessary tool in curbing the depravation and marginalisation of drug users and leads them away from open drug scenes. It also gets them into contact with therapeutic and social aid."

Manfred Rommel (CDU), former mayor of Stuttgart: "Prosecution is no sufficient measure of drug policy. We have to try and get into contact with drug users and to persuade them to become abstinent. But we also have to think about whether it is not better to give them heroin instead of letting them steal and die in our streets. The Swiss model should be introduced in Germany also."

Gerhard Sailer (CDU), Lord mayor of Karlsruhe: "I support the initiative of several large Germany cities that have passed the "resolution of Karlsruhe" that votes for a more humane drug policy and the implementation of heroin prescription under state control. We must not leave any measures out in trying to reduce the suffering of drug users and in diminishing the burdening effects of the drug problem for society. Drug help is not a good issue for exceeding in ideological debates."

Ulrich Goll (FDP), Minister of Justice of the State of Baden-Crttemberg: "A reform of drug policy is necessary both for humanitarian and safety reasons. The Swiss experience with heroin prescription and consumer rooms have shown that both the social stability of drug users can be increased and petty crime can be curbed. We have to achieve the necessary freedom for German cities to find alternative ways in tackling drug related problems."

Heribert Tallmair, President of the German council of Municipalities and regions: "We want to try and break the viscous circle of drug consumption with the help of pilot projects in prescribing original drugs to drug addicts. The German council of Municipalities and regions calls upon the Federal government, the Federal states, and the social welfare organisations not to endanger the welfare and treatment services by a cutting of financial means and to ensure a wide-spread substitution treatment."

Dieter Thomae (FDP), chairman of the Health committee of the German Bundestag (Parliament): "If there is no other help available, the medically controlled prescription of substitute or original substances can be necessary for the treatment of crisis intervention - as a last link in a chain of therapeutic measures. But I would like to emphasise: the prescription of heroin can only be done under strictly controlled circumstances - and only if methadone treatment is not applicable."

Rolf Huellinghorst, Deutsche Haupstelle gegen die Suchtgefahren (German office against dangers of addiction): The repertoire of helping measures must be complemented by heroin prescription and the intravenous use under medical control. I favour medical prescription of heroin, but only under strict surveillance."

Sabine Leutheusse-Schnarrenberger (FDP), former Federal Minister of Justice: "Repressive drug policy has failed. The 'swing-door-effect" between police station, justice system and street does not lead to any improvement of the situation - neither for the drug user nor for society as a whole. This is why we demand a fourth pillar in drug policy: harm reduction, survival help. This implies both the creation of a legal basis for so-called consumer rooms and the controlled prescription of heroin as in the Swiss model."

Karsten Vilmar, president of the Federal chamber of physicians: "The chamber of physicians welcomes the changing of the German narcotics laws with the aim to enlarge the spectrum of helping measures. The prerequisite for a prescription of heroin to drug addicts are: a long-term chronic opiate addiction, several failed therapies, the acute danger of a damage of health or social depravation, scientific surveillance and measures to stop additional use of other drugs."

Petra Roth (CDU), Lord mayor of the city of Frankfurt: "Methadone programmes and consumer rooms along with the abstinence oriented therapies have lead to an improvement of the health and social conditions of long-term drug users, but also to an improvement of the security in our city. Since 1991 the number of drug related deaths has decreased from 147 to 22 in 1997."

Albrecht Glaser (CDU), treasurer and health councillor of the city of Frankfurt: "We want to reduce suffering. The Swiss model has been basically positive: the prescription of heroin has proved to be a first step into a therapeutic process - that is why I support this model." - ---