Special drug zones a la The Wire -- ever happen?

Small spoiler for season 3 of The Wire ahead.

A rogue cop tired of business as usual sets up special zones in the city where his units turn a blind eye to drug use. Everywhere outside of these zones he cracks down hard while telling the dealers that these zones are their Amsterdams.

Eventually all the drug dealers and buyers are in these open air drug markets away from the general population. The police are supervising to make sure there’s no violence. Crime goes down dramatically and the citizens are happy. Health workers distribute clean needles, do HIV tests, hand out condoms, get some of them enrolled in drug programs and get them to quit, and so on. But then it gets found out and all hell breaks loose.

Has anything like this ever happened in the continental United States or is this coming from the same place where a homosexual, shotgun wielding gangster has a wild west style confrontation with an intellectual hit man donning a suit and bow tie?

Closest thing I know of is The Combat Zone in Boston. Haven’t heard about it in awhile, so maybe it’s been cleaned up.

A few months ago, there was a thread that asked this exact question, because of the same show you are referring to (I dont have cable and had never heard of “The Wire”)

I think that the general answer was it would not fly here in the USA, and was just a far-fetched plot device…

From my most recent experience, the Combat Zone is much like Times Square these daze, cleaned up, well patroled and not much different than other areas in downtown Boston.

The last time I was in Boston was 2005, so I suppose it could have slid back downhill in the last couple of years…

Not the same but there are “Safe Injection Sites” in Vancouver (which adopted the practice from European programs).

The aforementioned prior thread on the subject.

Sure, there’s Christiania in Copenhagen. Drugs are openly sold there, despite them being illegal. The police generally keep out.

While I agree that it could never happen exactly as it did on the show here in the US, I don’t think it’s that far-fetched for a plot device. First, in the show, the analogy they make is that drugs will be the equivalent of the brown paper bag that people drink alcohol from while they are on the street. The police will ignore the violation while being able to plausibly deny any direct knowledge of drinking, and being able to save face.

Second, any good beat cop, junkie, or drug dealer in an urban area knows where the drugs are sold, and (in all likelihood) who sell them. The two facts alone mean that, to a large extent, “special drug zones” already exist, and are tacitly approved, or accepted by all involved. They just aren’t publicly acknowledged or concentrated in one area. The unlikely part is that all of this would be directly and openly coordinated by the cops, not the idea of open-air drug markets.

I’ve just done some research and apparently the drug trade in Christiania was shut down by the dealers a day before a police raid in 2004, of which they were given prior notice. Still, the market there was generally tolerated by the government authorities from 1971 until 2004.

From what I understand (I really wish I could go there and see for myself), Christiania isn’t so much a “special drug zone” as a “special everything zone”. No cars are allowed, they have their own currency, their own government…

Re drugs, and as a parallel to the Wire situation :

So, it seems that just like in the TV series, the officials moved in, and everything turned to shit. Morality : si non confectus, non reficiat

EDIT : sorry, this was a Wiki quote, forgot to mention that.

It didn’t fly in the show either (which was set in Baltimore). It was just a rogue police commissioner with the support of a few trusted officers and community members setting running it on the down-low. Once the press caught wind of it the powers that be shut it down.

I’ve wondered this myself. For example, there’s this small handball court near where I live in the middle of a good neighborhood that has people every day sitting around smoking and selling to eachother. Been that way for years. I think it happens a lot more than we know.

Boulder Colorado - the whole town is pretty much a marijuana open market. Ironically, also the home of one of the first and most restricitive tobacco bans in the country.

Its not in the US but sounds like the Needle Park idea that was tried in Switzerland, and failed.

It should be noted however the sucessful replacement scheme in Switzerland was the more widespread prescription of heroin to addicts.