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Can J Public Health. 2012 Mar-Apr;103(2):125-7.

Canada moving backwards on illegal drugs.

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Addiction and Mental Health Research Lab, School of Public Health, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB.


Internationally, illegal drug use remains a major public health problem. In response, many countries have begun to shift their illegal drug policies away from enforcement and towards public health objectives. Recently, both the Global Commission on Drug Policy and the Supreme Court of Canada have endorsed this change in direction, supporting empirically sound illegal drug policies that reduce criminalization and stigmatization of drug users and bolster treatment and harm reduction efforts. Until recently, Canada was a participant in this growing movement towards rational drug policy. Unfortunately, in recent years, policy changes have made Canada one of the few remaining advocates of a "war-on-drugs" approach. Indeed, the current government has implemented a number of new illegal drug policies that contradict well-established scientific evidence from public health, criminology and other fields. As such, their approach is expected to do little to reduce the harms associated with substance use in Canada. The authors call on the current government to heed the recommendations of the Global Commission's report and learn from the many countries that are innovating in illegal drug policy by prioritizing evidence, human rights and public health.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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