Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo wants to create four new salles de shoot (shooting galleries) in the city where addicts can go to take drugs, and also access help if they want to.
A law from 2016 authorises the creation of salles de consommation à moindre risque or SCMR (low-risk consumption rooms), to give them their proper name, but so far just two have been set up – one in Paris and one in Strasbourg.
Hidalgo wants to extend the programme to tackle the long-standing problem of crack consumption in Paris, particularly around the Stalingrad area in the north of the city, which has seen locals protesting over addicts smoking crack and in some cases living in their local streets and parks.
Her plan has not met with universal approval, however, particularly from residents in the 20th arrondissement, where the proposed gallery is close to a school.
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Posters in 20th arrondissement of Paris claim that the mairie 'put heroin and crack on the menu of school canteens'. Part of ongoing protests over plans to create shooting galleries for drug users pic.twitter.com/q03ARrGDn9
— Emma Pearson (@LocalFR_Emma) September 15, 2021
Angry parents staged a march to the mairie over the weekend demanding the end of the plan and accusing city officials of endangering children.
Prime Minister Jean Castex wrote: “the creation of new reception centres will be supported by the services of the State” subject to local conditions, adding that he wants to provide “the offer of care” to people who use the shooting galleries.
However, he added: “I would like to draw your attention to the obvious difficulty that the creation of such a facility would represent on a site adjacent to an elementary school.”
The mayor of the 20th arrondissement is to hold a public meeting about the issue on Wednesday.
The idea of shooting galleries has sparked a rift in the government between interior minister Gérald Darmanin, who is a hardliner on drug-related issues, and health minister Olivier Véran, whose office has judged the two galleries already up and running to have had a “positive effect”.