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Zurich opens addict injection rooms to other drug users

The new scheme hopes to discourage Swiss ravers from using party drugs

(Keystone Archive)

The authorities in Zurich have announced that rooms for drug users injecting heroin are to be opened to cocaine users and those who prefer to smoke heroin. The move is aimed at discouraging users from taking drugs in public places.

Monika Stocker, head of Zurich's social services, said the scheme was being extended to remove active drug takers from public places to an environment where they have access to help.

She added that most heroin users preferred to smoke the drug than inject it so it made sense to allow them to use the rooms as well. Users of cocaine and its derivative, crack cocaine, will also be permitted to sniff or "freebase" their drugs in the rooms.

Those smoking and sniffing the drugs will occupy a separate room to those whop inject heroin, and will have the equipment required to take the drugs at their disposal, as well as the necessary disinfectants to ensure adequate hygiene standards.

The authorities said they expected around 100 people to take advantage of the scheme.

It is already in use in Olten and Schaffhausen, and the authorities in Geneva and Biel are assessing whether to implement it as well.

Under the new programme, facilities are also to be made available for "rave" or party drugs to be tested as part of a prevention campaign. Those using the tests will have access to advice.

Switzerland has been criticised for its liberal drug policy by the International Narcotics Control Board, which oversees the implementation of United Nations drug conventions.

In March, the government approved a draft law to legalise the consumption of cannabis. Under the proposed legislation, which must still be debated by parliament, the sale of and production of the drug would also be tolerated.

swissinfo with agencies

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