Dealing with Drug Addiction

Here’s a 20-minute documentary clip that aired on CBC’s Close-Up on 13 May 1959. It features reporter Jack Webster looking into the issue of drug addiction in Vancouver and includes interviews with an addict, a druggist, a coroner, and a drug squad detective. The drug issue was in the news after three young men died from heroin overdoses.

Addicts in the 1950s were subjected to more vigorous enforcement of drug laws than anytime since, yet the police themselves felt their efforts were futile against the drug menace. In this clip, Detective Al Shepard echoes a defeatist proposal made earlier in the decade by Chief Constable Walter Mulligan that addicts should be segregated from society, maybe on some island. Until then, it’s “just the same thing, day in and day out” for the drug squad.

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