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A state senator wants to legalize heroin clinics in Nevada as a way to combat crime and fight drug addiction.
Sen. Richard "Tick" Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, said he will introduce a bill in the 2015 legislative session to open clinics that would provide supervised drug injections to addicts.
Along with free doses of drugs, the clinics would provide counseling and therapy.
“The goal is to get people off the street, out of the criminal element, address their addiction and then hopefully figure out a way to get them off of the drug,” Segerblom said.
Nevada is a good testing ground for this experiment, as Segerblom called it, “because we’re like a little test tube, a very small insulated community, so I think … we’re the perfect place to do it. “I’m not saying it’s the best way, but the current way is not working so why not try something different?”
Ethan Nadelmann, founder of the Drug Policy Alliance, said methadone clinics, some of which exist in Las Vegas, can be effective, “but they don’t work for everybody.”
In a handful of countries where heroin clinics exist, mostly in Europe, Nadelmann said the outcome was more positive than negative.
“Not only did (some addicts) stop using street heroin … then their health started improving and their risk for Hepatitis C and HIV went down … criminality went down … and all kind of positive results happened as a result.”
Dr. Mel Pohl, medical director of the Las Vegas Recovery Center, doesn't like the proposal.
“What we’re talking about is unlimited availability of drugs,” Pohl said. “This would be like offering unlimited Krispy Kremes to a diabetic."
Segerblom admitted his idea has little chance of gaining approval of the 2015 Legislature.
“One thing I’ve learned (in the Legislature) is nothing is easy and nothing happens the first time,” he said. “So it’s a great opportunity to publicize issues, get people talking, get people thinking. The drug war is lost and we might as well start to figure out a new way of looking at drugs.”
Mel Pohl, Medical Director, Las Vegas Recovery Center
Richard "Tick" Segerblom, Nevada Senator, D-Las Vegas
Ethan Nadelmann, Executive Director, Drug Policy Alliance
Laurel Pritchard, Associate Professor, Department of Psychology
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