- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 11, 2011

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA (AP) - North America’s first and only legal injection site is facing a court challenge from a government that sees it as a facilitator of drug abuse.

Defenders of the taxpayer-funded site in Vancouver, British Columbia, say it is a providing a form of health care, and that health care is a provincial matter under Canada’s constitution.

The federal government counters that its writ trumps provincial rights because heroin is a federally banned substance.

The case opens before the Supreme Court of Canada in Ottawa on Thursday.

As of 2009, there were 65 injection facilities in 27 cities in Canada, Australia, and western Europe, according to the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

The World Health Organization has called them a “priority intervention” in slowing the spread of AIDS via infected needles.