States press Merkel party to approve free heroin

21st September 2007, Comments 0 comments

21 September 2007, Berlin (dpa) - State governments in Germany stepped up pressure Friday for free heroin to be handed out to hopeless addicts, an approach which they said weakens the drug culture.

21 September 2007

Berlin (dpa) - State governments in Germany stepped up pressure Friday for free heroin to be handed out to hopeless addicts, an approach which they said weakens the drug culture.

Hundreds of addicts already receive up to three free doses a day of the drug in seven German cities under what is officially a pilot scheme. The states want health-insurers nationwide to pick up the tab in future.

The drug, also known as diamorphine, is made synthetically, rather than from opium poppies.

A draft bill adopted in the Bundesrat upper house, backed by 13 of the 16 German states, will be referred to the Bundestag lower house.

Chancellor Angela Merkel's own party, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), opposes the burden being placed on insurers and instead proposes more "pilot" projects where needed.

The heroin is given to addicts who have failed to break the habit using a substitute, methadone. The conservative CDU says the main aim should continue to be weaning them.

Birgit Schnieber-Jastram, the social-welfare minister in Hamburg, contended that free issue in her state had reduced drug consumption overall and enabled addicts to end contact with drug dealers.

A federal drugs official, Sabine Baetzing, said about 3,500 addicts in Germany would benefit if heroin were available in every town.

DPA

Subject: German news

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