Brighton could become the first city in the UK to allow heroin and crack cocaine addicts to inject themselves in officially-sanctioned “drug consumption rooms”.
But one local resident said he did not want the city to become “more of a destination for addicts than it already feels like it is”.
And a pro-abstinence campaigner has warned that the plan ‘colludes’ with illegal behaviour.
The recommendation for drug consumption rooms, which have been dubbed ‘safe rooms’ or ‘shooting galleries’, was put forward by a local commission on drugs.
Various models could be adopted, including giving addicts drugs or allowing them to use their own.
The idea is to be given “serious consideration” by council officials.
The Observer newspaper said local Green MP Caroline Lucas believed the facilities would push at the fringes of the law but backed the idea.
However, Chip Somers, who leads an abstinence-based rehabilitation centre, told the BBC: “We’ve got the balance between providing addicts with care and harm reduction techniques completely out of proportion and we’re now colluding with really quite poor lifestyle choice and in this case illegal behaviour.”
While the cost of any such project has not been revealed, Mr Somers said it would be “very expensive” and “for that sort of money you could put 40 or 50 people through a complete rehabilitation project”.
In 2007, when free heroin was made available to drug abusers through NHS clinics, the move faced criticism.
Conservative MP David Davis said: “This is a white flag approach.”
And in 2009 a project which concluded that providing addicts with prescription heroin helped them reduce their drug use, also came under fire.
Drugs expert Professor Neil McKeganey cautioned that the project “seems like a good idea”, but it “creates a potentially difficult and unwelcome set of circumstances in which doctors run the risk of becoming like dealers”.