Enough with the Drug-Free Zones. Europe is building Drug Zones.

Enough with the Drug-Free Zones. Europe is building Drug Zones.

VicesAugust 12, 2016 By Eleanor Gray

To keep life orderly and provide stability, you have zoning. Commercial, residential, mixed use. These are demarcated by signs. For example, many places are “Drug-Free Zones.” 

Drug-Free Workplace. Drug-Free School. Drug-Free Hospital. 

Meaning, clearly, every place outside those places are “Drug Zones”? 

Honestly, the Bike Path is a Drug Zone. The Skate Park is a Drug Zone. The ARISE Music Festival is an amazing Drug Zone.

And, with Prozac, Adderall and Fireball, the entire country is basically a Semi-Drug Zone.

But there are certain Drug Zones that aren’t desirable, such as the Cherry Creek bike path in Denver and certain areas near Boulder Creek. Scabies scares tourists, the HIV ruins orgies. 

What to do? Sure, we could arrest everyone with track marks.

Or we could build deliberate Drug Zones. 

Imagine how they’d look: seas of comfortable couches with killer stereo systems and endless snacks, where everyone can work together to dodge the dripping ceiling and decide whether B-flat is red and A-sharp purple, or the other way around. 

But if that idea seems foreign, that’s because it literally is.

In fact, a number of foreign countries have literally built Drug Zones — and not just those coffee houses in the Netherlands, where you can smoke trees until you’re so high you understand Dutch.

Drug Consumption Rooms are real places where addicts of serious, dangerous drugs can consume safely, around medical professionals who give them clean needles, emotional support, and easy access to rehab. 

Last week, the Danish city of Copenhagen opened the largest Drug Consumption Room in the world, at 11,000 square feet. 

Here are some photos, from the website DrogRiporter, via The Danish Street Lawyers

It's not cush, but it's cleaner than your mom's basement. 

Facing a crisis of overdoses, the Danes embrace harm reduction. There’s even even a mobile drug room.

We phoned the new center, called 'H17,' in Copenhagen, to scope the situation. They couldn’t tell us much; citing patient privacy. They did say that they don’t provide the drugs, however, and the rooms aren’t a place to just chill and listent to the Dark Side of the Moon. But, they are hiring, if that's any interest to you?

“You have an hour and fifteen minutes to get high and get out,” sais the man on the other end of phone, sounding like an exasperated stepfather.

These drug consumption rooms dot Europe now. There’re 24 in Germany alone, in 15 different cities. They have their own advocacy organization. There are also rooms in the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Australia and even Canada

Pressure is mounting to build the first one in America. The mayor of Ithaca, NY has called for one. The San Francisco Drug Users Union — which has to be the union Republicans hate more than any other — made a film calling for one. In Denver, Project Safe provides research and treatment, but nothing like a consumption room. We called them to see if they'd push for one, but got no immediate answer. 

For serious addicts, research suggests these rooms virtually wipe out street injection, eliminate HIV and Hepatitis infections, drop overdose deaths by 35 percent.  

Someday, maybe there will be harm reduction centers like these in Colorado. Someday, there may even be Drug Zones for (relatively) safe and even helpful drugs like MDMA or DMT. And although a Drug Zone here in America may be a long way away, these harm reduction rooms are emblematic of a worldwide movement away from the War on Drugs, toward a worldview which acknowledges the human desire for altered consciousness and seeks safety, cleanliness and purity. 

Those of us who know the positive power of certain illicit drugs can dream of a distant day full of proper zoning. Not just commercial and residential, but Drug Zones, Drug-Free Zones and even, hopefully, Free Drug Zones.