Doing drugs at Dr's office?

Nanaimo council is preparing to change zoning rules to permit supervised consumption sites in medical offices, as all levels of government try to stem the opioid-overdose crisis.

If the zoning change is approved, it would mean any proposed supervised consumption service would not need to go through a public hearing. It would also mean Nanaimo would not be able to add conditions on how such a site would be operated, including how it would be managed, council heard from staff this week.

The zoning change would bring Nanaimo in line with cities such as Victoria, Vancouver, Surrey and Kelowna, which define supervised drug consumption as a health service. In Victoria, a supervised-consumption site is permitted where zoning allows medical/ professional uses.

Nanaimo councillors wrestled with what to do after hearing that the federal government has jurisdiction to approve a supervised service. But federal legislation requires public consultation, said Dr. Paul Hasselback, Island Health medical health officer.

Hasselback, a longtime advocate for more services to tackle overdoses, told Nanaimo council: “Time has come to move to the modern age.” Supervised consumption is regarded as a health service that’s linked to specialized treatment and therapies, he said.

The issue of supervised consumption has been contentious in Nanaimo, where a proposal for a permanent site was defeated in a public hearing two years ago.

Before changing medical-dental zoning to include supervised drug consumption, citizens would have a chance to speak at a public hearing on the issue. 

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