Drug decriminalization as a necessary response to COVID-19

As a matter of public health and human rights, this cannot be ignored.

drug decriminalization covid 19 drug decriminalization covid 19


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“The COVID-19 pandemic has further exposed stark health inequities and the many structural factors that increase people’s vulnerability to the virus. People who use drugs, and particularly those who are homeless or precariously housed, are more likely to have chronic health issues that will increase their risk of experiencing severe complications should they contract COVID-19. To minimize the risk of transmission and other drug-related health risks, public health officials have urged people who use drugs to continue using harm reduction services, including overdose prevention sites and supervised consumption sites.

Unfortunately, COVID-19 has forced many harm reduction sites across the country to close or reduce the scope of their services, and people who use drugs are navigating new gaps not only in the drug supply chain but also in the resources and supports they rely on, increasing their risk of HIV and hepatitis C (HCV) infection, overdose, and other harms to their health. Moreover, it is well established that continued police enforcement of simple drug possession laws and the attendant fear of arrest pushes people who use drugs to do so in isolation and compromises their ability to take critical safety precautions. This includes by deterring access to harm reduction services, to which people who use drugs cannot legally travel while in possession of the substances they wish to use there.”

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