THE legalisation of heroin debate continues to rage, with a West Australian lawyer the latest to join the fight.
Perth lawyer John Hammond, who represented deceased right-to-die campaigner Christian Rossiter, said severely ill people who want to kill themselves should be given heroin, reports News.com.au
"Heroin should be available to medical practitioners to be used legally in a controlled medical setting,'' Hammond said.
"It would be given to terminally ill and severely incapacitated people who'd given directions when they were mentally capable that they'd wanted to die in the easiest way possible.”
He added: "It is my understanding that heroin is one of the best exit drugs, or end of life drugs. It should be made available for people who want to die in a euphoric and-or pleasant state.''
In the UK, a pharmaceutical version of heroin, diamorphine, is legally available from doctors and is used as a painkiller for people in palliative care.
Euthanasia campaigner, Philip Nitschke, told media though heroin was "one of the best pain-relieving drugs there is'', and "exceedingly peaceful'', it was not as reliable as other drugs for ending life.
Health professionals have also renewed the debate with Western Region Alcohol and Drug centre director, Geoff Soma, calling for heroin to be legalised, so that doctors may prescribe the drug to addicts, reports The Standard.
“There is a group of people who do not respond to methadone or other available treatments,'' Soma said.
“These are older addicts who are taking risks everyday with their lives and other people's lives.
“It (legalising heroin) is worth a trial if it is controlled, has proper research and the positive impacts recorded.''
Meanwhile, Dr Alex Wodak, director of the alcohol and drug service at Sydney's St Vincent's Hospital, has called on the Federal Government to investigate whether long-term addicts who failed rehabilitation programs should be prescribed heroin as a last resort.
“This group may be five per cent of all heroin users, but they have the biggest habit and they account for a disproportionate amount of crime,'' Dr Wodak said.
“They may also be the ones that recruit new users, so getting that group out of the street-heroin market and into treatment will benefit everyone. It would also mean the rest of the community would experience less crime and pay lower insurance premiums as a result.''