Safe Houses for Narcotics Stir Debate in Brazil

Brazil’s national Anti-drug secretary, General Paulo Roberto Uchôa, called for prudence in the public debate on the possibility of establishing safe drug-use spots in Brazil. The creation of such spots in large urban centers on a trial basis is being discussed by an interministerial group.

Representatives of the Ministries of Health and Justice, the Presidential Civilian Advisory Staff, and the National Anti-drug Secretariat (Senad) are preparing a decree to regulate the policy of harm reduction in Brazil. The establishment of safe drug-use spots is one of the items being analyzed by the group.


“The decree that will regulate the policy of harm reduction is important, but it is still being studied and substantiated with considerable calm and serenity. The creation of safe drug-use spots in Brazil has been receiving a lot of attention. But that’s not quite the way things are,” Uchôa counsels.


“This kind of measure is in a trial phase in some places in the world. Brazil cannot act rashly and jump to a decision of this type. In the Brazilian government we are still not inclined towards a definition in this sense.”


Uchôa is hoping for a broader discussion of this matter at the National Forum on Drugs, in Brasí­lia, next week from November 24-26.


In his view, if the government opts for a trial project, it will be conducted with rigid controls and at the university level.


“Countries like the Netherlands, Canada, and Australia, that authorized such establishments, have faced a series of difficulties,” the secretary affirmed.


“There are various complicated aspects to deal with, related to illegal drugs in themselves, ethical questions. Among them, drawing people from other countries to ones that have establishments of this type. This occurred in Switzerland.”


Uchôa recognizes that those who defend safe drug-use spots are worried about “addicts in very serious conditions, nearly beyond the point of no return.”


In the secretary’s opinion, these are the people who are motivated by the prospect of creating a spot of this kind.


“But we have to take a deeper look and concern ourselves with all the factors involved in a decision to create safe drug-use spots. We have no time frame for this, perhaps it is still a long way off,” the general foresees.


“The government is still not agreed on the establishment of safe drug-use spots. Not even the decree to regulate the policy of harm reduction has a definite date for the President’s signature.”


Agência Brasil
Translator: David Silberstein

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