In a public debate, four students from the student organization Debate in Science and Health argued the case for and against The Ithaca Plan — which includes the proposed creation of a heroin injection clinics to treat addicts.
The plan, proposed by Mayor Svante Myrick ’09, proposes that addicts be given clean equipment and supervised in drug consumption in order to prevent overdose deaths and the spread of diseases such as HIV and AIDS.
Prof. Harris Warrick, biological sciences, provided background information on how heroin affects the brain at the forum.
“Heroin is about twice as potent as morphine, because of the way it gets into the brain,” he said. “Once it’s in the brain, its effects are the same as those of morphine.”
Warrick stressed that heroin usage is serious saying nearly 10,000 users die from the drug every year in the United States.
After Warrick concluded his discussion on the consequences of using heroin, students began the debate.
HeeJin Cheon ’16 said she believes heroin is a significant problem in Ithaca and that “the war on drugs has failed.”
“Harm reduction should be our overall goal,” Cheon said.
A harm reduction facility in Vancouver, Canada has successfully implemented policies similar to the one proposed in the Ithaca Plan, according to Mario Velado ’17.
“In a study out of Vancouver, 800 per day go to these facilities,” Velado said. “Several overdose, [but] nobody dies. The facts are that these facilities work.”
Kuanzian Leong ’17 argued that more people will begin to use heroin if they believe there is a safe place to use it.
“You increase the chance that people will try drugs in the first place because they believe there is a cure,” Leong said.
Alex Chakrin ’17, who is a staff writer for The Sun, added that the injection clinic might shift government funds away from rehabilitation clinics.
“We think that the optimal goal should be rehab,” Chakrin said.
A previous version of this story attributed a quote criticizing the Ithaca Plan to Richard Chen ’18. The statement was in fact made by Kuanzian Leong ’17.