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Crack program questioned
Published Wednesday, August 3, 2011 5:27PM MDT
Alberta Health Services has been handing out crack kits to addicts in Calgary for the past three years and that has some people questioning whether the program is legal.
The goal of the program is to cut the risk of diseases like Hepatitis C, HIV and respiratory illnesses.
The AHS program has been run by the Safeworks Mobile Van since November of 2008 and has handed out thousands of pipes to addicts.
The program started to gain attention after Vancouver announced it is starting a similar project.
Alberta Health Services says maintaining contact with at-risk street drug users is vital to ensure they can access health care.
Calgary police say they opposed the program when it was introduced and asked the Crown for legal clarification at the time.
Police are now looking into it at a federal level because the bottom line is distributing drug paraphernalia is a criminal offense.
Under the criminal code, distributing drug paraphernalia carries a fine up to $100,000, a jail term up to six months, or both.
Some members of city council are also concerned about the program and think the city should have a say and a chance to debate the issue.
Last year Alberta Health Services handed out 7000 kits to addicts in the city.
So far this year, 2500 crack kits have been distributed on the streets of Calgary.
For more information on the program, visit the Alberta Health Services website.