A change in health policy that would provide prescription heroin to addicts has been backed by Swiss voters. 68% of voters supported the plan, show final results from the national referendum. (photo, from bbc.co.uk)
The scheme started in Zurich 14 years ago before spreading across the country.
Addicts inject the drug under medical supervision at a clinic.
But the decriminalisation of cannabis appears to have been rejected by the Swiss in another referendum.
The heroin vote was one of a series of referendums held to decide policy on illegal drugs.
Prescribing addicts with the very drug that caused their problems in the first place is described as a last resort policy, but it works, say supporters. Swiss voters apparently agree.
According to supporters the results are positives because long-term addicts get out of Switzerland’s once notorious “needle parks” and drug-related crime are reduced.
But opponents say heroin prescription sends the wrong message to young people and harms the addicts themselves.
Less clear on cannabis
Switzerland would be the first country to include it in government policy.
The scheme brings addicts to visit clinics up to twice a day, where they inject the drug under medical supervision. They can also be treated for other medical issues or mental health problems, says the BBC’s Imogen Foulkes in Berne.
But things were less clear on cannabis. Regularly, Swiss police turn a blind eye to moderate cannabis use.
But a “No” to decriminalisation is likely to have been encouraged by recent studies suggesting that long-term use of the drug may be more harmful than previously thought.
Early results showed only 36.8% of those voting supported decriminalising cannabis, the Associated Press (AP) news agency said.