I wrote an article for VICE News that argued that we can and should treat drug abuse as a health issue, and not as a crime. During the campaign Prime Minister Justin Trudeau discussed legalizing recreational marijuana and following a science and evidence-based approach to policy-making.
The rhetoric surrounding the war on drugs stigmatizes the user and does nothing to decrease organized crime. In 2001, the Portuguese government decriminalized the possession of all drugs. Their approach offers a greater focus on rehabilitation. This strategy removed the criminal component of drug use which subsequently lead to a decrease in use, drug overdoses and drug related deaths. I am advocating the implementation of a similar approach in Canada.
I am not alone in my advocacy, other organizations are in support of this measure including The Global Commission on Drug Policy, an international group that has been vocal on their decriminalization stance since 2014, and The Center for Addiction & Mental Health (CAMH) which studied the impact of decriminalization of marijuana in a 2014 report. The report found that the annual cost for enforcing Canadian cannabis laws was $1.2 billion in 2002.
Last December, federal Health Minister Jane Philpott launched bill C-37 which intends to confront the country’s opiate epidemic and allow easier access to safe injection sites. Toronto city council has made strides approving three safe injections sites in the city, following policy introduced in Vancouver in 2003.
It it important to state that my stance on this issue does not necessarily reflect the sentiments of the Liberal Party. Currently there is no advocacy from the Liberal Party regarding the decriminalization of all drugs. The Government of Canada intends to regulate possessing and selling marijuana.
I’ve talked with many outlets over the past week to discuss how it’s time to follow this harm-reduction approach and save more lives by decriminalizing all drugs.
- Le Devoir: Un député libéral propose de légaliser toutes les drogues
- CBC News: Legalizing all drugs would be good for Canada, according to Toronto Liberal MP
I also talked with Kelly Cutara on AM680. You can listen below:
Or we can keep banging our head against the wall, and maintain the criminal prohibition against illicit drug use — Nixon’s “war on drugs” — which continues to be an abject failure.Nathaniel Erskine-Smith
Let’s have a conversation about saving Canadian lives.