Swiss Vote Sunday on National Drug Policy

Press Release September 25, 1997
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Tony Newman at 510-208-7711

Citizens of Switzerland will vote Sunday on an initiative to end a successful drug treatment program. If approved, the initiative would discontinue the government’s heroin maintenance program and abandon most of its methadone program — forcing thousands of currently drug free citizens back to illicit drugs. A recent government report found the heroin maintenance program reduced crime by 60%, improved the general and nutritional health of people addicted to heroin, dramatically reduced illicit cocaine and heroin use, improved participants’ living conditions, and doubled the number of participants who were employed. The reactionary initiative is opposed by mainstream church groups, most members of the Swiss parliament, police representatives, the Swiss cabinet, trade unions and the vast majority of youth and drug workers. In fact, the citizens of three Swiss cities, Zurich, Basel and Schaffhausen, passed local referendums supporting public funding for heroin maintenance and methadone programs in their cities.

“Heroin maintenance is a proven method to reducing the crime, disease and personal instability associated with heroin addiction,” said Dr. Ethan Nadelmann, Director of the Lindesmith Center, a drug policy research think tank. “As long as people continue to use heroin and other drugs, it is critical that all options, including the prescription of heroin and other drugs, be considered as viable means to reducing crime and improving public health.”

A young woman holds a sign that says "End the Drug War."

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