Drug prohibition was meant to reduce drug use and the perceived associated harms. History has proven that it has failed on both accounts, and instead, fuelled an epidemic of drug poisonings/overdose deaths and created a dangerous illegal market supporting high-level, transnational organized crime. Prohibition was conceived of and implemented in the early 1900s and has changed little since. As revealed in Busted: An Illustrated History of Drug Prohibition in Canada, by Dr. Susan Boyd, prohibition was born out of racism—anti-Asian and anti-Indigenous sentiment that positioned European Christian culture, mindset, and philosophies as superior.
But now, a critical mass is growing in response to over a century of policy failure that has killed over 23,000 Canadians since 2016. Politicians, doctors, and leading public health officials are calling on the federal government to decriminalize drugs to save lives and protect communities after recognizing that prohibition has produced more harm than good. Evidence clearly demonstrates that it is time for a bold policy shift away from criminalization towards a health and human rights approach.
Leading human rights and public health organizations release national drug decriminalization platform for Canada
This comprehensive path to decriminalization has been endorsed by more than 100 organizations across Canada.
Decriminalization Done Right: A Rights-Based Path for Drug Policy
Canada’s first civil society platform for the decriminalization of drugs developed by 20 national organizations and people at the centre of the drug poisoning/overdose crisis.
Decriminalization Done Right: A Human Rights and Public Health Vision for Drug Policy Reform
The current “Vancouver Model” sets a dangerous precedent—a system ‘by’ police is ‘for’ police, not the people it was intended to help. We need #DecrimDoneRight where policies are co-developed by people who use drugs.
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News & Updates
- CityNews, December 14, 2021: Trudeau open to discussing decriminalization of hard drugs
- New York Times, December 11, 2021: The Other, Seemingly Endless, State of Emergency in British Columbia
- L'actualité, December 9: Un cadre pour décriminaliser des drogues et redistribuer des ressources de la police
- Globe and Mail, December 9, 2021: Divert police funds to community groups, coalition says in decriminalization platform
- Toronto Star, December 9, 2021: Divert police funds to community groups, coalition says in decriminalization platform
- Victoria Times Colonist, December 9, 2021: Civil society organizations release drug decriminalization platform for Canada
- rdnewsNOW, December 9, 2021: Civil society organizations release drug decriminalization platform for Canada
- Toronto Star; November 29, 2021: Toronto health board to vote on plan to decriminalize small amounts of illegal drugs
- CBC; November 1, 2021: B.C. applies to decriminalize use of small amounts of illicit drugs in effort to reduce deaths
- Globe and Mail; June 1, 2021: City of Vancouver makes final submission seeking federal exemption to decriminalize simple drug possession