Swiss vote on prescription heroin

Other News Materials 30 November 2008 13:38 (UTC +04:00)

Voters in Switzerland are going to the polls in a series of referendum votes to decide the country's policy on illegal drugs, BBC reported.

One ballot asks voters to vote on whether to approve heroin prescription as a permanent Swiss health policy.

Opinion polls suggest voters are likely to approve the plan, which would make Switzerland the world's first country to include it in government policy.

But another proposal to decriminalise cannabis is not likely to pass.

Switzerland has had an experimental heroin prescription programme for over a decade.

Supporters say it has had positive results - getting long-term addicts out of Switzerland's once notorious needle parks and reducing drug-related crime.

Opponents say heroin prescription sends the wrong message to young people and harms the addicts themselves.

But polls suggest the Swiss - pleased that their streets are now free of addicts and used syringes - are likely to approve heroin prescription.

On cannabis things are less clear - Swiss police regularly turn a blind to moderate cannabis use.

But recent studies suggesting that long term use of the drug may be more harmful than previously thought look likely to encourage a "no" to decriminalisation.