A controversial approach to the problem of drug addiction in one part of Paris is causing consternation amongst some and being welcomed by others, including a Socialist deputy-mayor who is now urging authorities to add to the proposed service
The deputy-mayor of the 18th arrondissement of Paris Daniel Vaillant has drawn controversy with his remarks over the weekend about hopes that a “crack-house” will be set up to accommodate those addicted to the drug.
Already in place since the start of February is a plan to open a “shooting gallery” near the Gare du Nord; due to open “within a matter of weeks”, according to mayor of the 10th arrondissement Rémi Féraud. Many local residents are opposed to the plan, fearing that it will only worsen an already serious situation in this part of the capital by creating a Mecca for heroin addicts everywhere.
Féraud’s fellow-socialist in the neighbouring and northernmost arrondissement has suggested that in his constituency, the problem of crack was an even greater one than in the 10th and he urged his fellow councillors to consider the idea of creating a crack-house to allow addicts to practice their dependency in a monitored healthy environment, while giving respect to residents.“I think that the low-risk consumption room next to the Gare du Nord should be put in place first of all,” said Mr Vaillant, “but it would be a good idea to consider, along with the practitioners, the opening of a room for crack abusers on an experimental basis.”
Although the drug consumption envisaged for the “shooting gallery” of the Gare du Nord won’t necessarily exclude “crack-heads”, it doctors seemingly believe that the mixing of the two types of drug-abusers isn’t desirable.
Very few local residents seem to be in favour of any form of legalisation of the use of hard drugs in their neighbourhood, even on an experimental basis. This sentiment was reflected in a weekend public flash poll organised at a café in the 10th arrondissement which resulted in 93% of the 300 voters who turned up voting against the idea.
Local right-wing UMP councillor Vincent Roger reacted with “consternation” to Mr Vaillant’s additional proposal: “Such a proposition sends out a serious message to the youth – it’s an open invitation to them to suspend the laws that protect them… and it goes against the grain of medical advice.”