Last week, France’s health minister Marisol Touraine opened the door to normalisation of illegal drug consumption in controlled, clinical settings.

This is the same minister who wants plain packaging for cigarettes and says that alcohol, including French wine, is unsafe at any level.

A six-year trial (!) of taxpayer-funded salles de shoot (or, as Touraine and her allies prefer, salles de consommation) could soon open up anywhere in France. These might be clinics or separate hospital units. Clinicians would attend to the addicts, e.g. supplying clean needles. Police presence would be increased in the districts where the shooting galleries would open.

The proposal has resulted in a huge debate of those for and against. A number of doctors think it is a good idea and would protect addicts from infection and overdose.

On the other hand, opponents are already posting local petitions in their towns and cities against such places. A website and Facebook page are also in place: ‘Non aux salles de shoot‘.

Opponents rightly ask the following questions:

1/ In a time when the French are told the national health budget must be reined in, why then devote taxpayers’ money and added public health — and police — resources for shooting galleries?

2/ Why normalise (débanalise) illegal drugs when campaigns and laws restricting smoking — including e-cigarettes — and alcohol are such a huge part of public health policy?

3/ Is it right that children should see groups of addicts going into these places?

4/ Will there be an increase in violence in areas where shooting galleries exist? Will these neighbourhoods become no-go areas?

RMC’s current affairs host Eric Brunet said he didn’t know how to explain to his children that the French government seems to cater to illegal drugs, yet considers tobacco and French wine to be taboo.

A lady from Geneva (Switzerland) rang in to Brunet’s show on Friday, October 17, say that she was campaigning for that city’s shooting gallery to close. The level of crime and violence had dramatically increased since it had opened several years ago. Brunet pointed out that Sweden had closed all of its galleries for these very reasons.

The UK had similar clinics and, if I remember rightly, actually dispensed the drugs there rather than allowing users to bring in their own. These patients were sent their by their general practitioners (family doctors). However, by the early 1970s, these, too, had closed. The number of patients had been quite small until the late 1960s, when, suddenly, many more — including unregistered walk-ins — were coming in for a fix. The programme became unmanageable and had to end.

One prominent French physician and medical school professor, Jean Constantin, opposes Touraine’s shooting galleries. He prefers improving the existing methods of prevention and treatment, especially as more young French people are experimenting with illegal drugs.

Constantin asks how addicts will be able to bring in their own drugs when their safety cannot be assured. He wonders if any doctor would be willing to supervise such a situation. He adds:

Furthermore, it has been proven that those using these rooms and leaving with a sufficient heroin dose in their bloodstream are not dissuaded from taking more in the street. 

And what happens if an addict dies either in one of these shooting galleries or soon afterward? Does his (or her) family sue the state? Then what?

In any event, this gives evidence to my theory that the ultimate aim of Tobacco Control and Alcohol Control — and politicians who support them — is the normalisation and increased use of illegal drugs so that we become compliant, manageable addicts who can no longer think for ourselves.

In closing, Marisol Touraine presents herself as a minister concerned about the nation’s well being, yet, her son is serving a three-year prison term for having extorted a neighbour lady.

Mme Touraine is a fine one to be dictating to others how they should live their lives.