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 Report calls for decriminalizing both ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ drugs

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PostSubject: Report calls for decriminalizing both ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ drugs   Mon 27 May 2013, 11:58



Tray of supplied items, at the supervised injection site, Insite on Vancouver's Downtown Eastside

Photograph by: Ward Perrin


A report
out Thursday calls on Canada to decriminalize personal use of all
narcotics and regulate cannabis, saying current policies are failing to
reduce drug use or make Canadians safer.
The Canadian Drug Policy
Coalition says treating drug use as a health problem, rather than a
criminal one, would meet many of the objectives prohibitions has
historically failed to accomplish.
“We’re doing this to improve
public health and safety, not create a free-for-all. What we have now is
a free-for-all,” said executive director Donald MacPherson, who
co-authored the report.
MacPherson stressed the coalition, made up
of 30 non-governmental organizations and based at Simon Fraser
University, doesn’t make the case that drug use is harmless.
However,
MacPherson said treating drug possession and consumption as a criminal
matter stigmatizes users and creates a barrier to them seeking help.
“This
is a pragmatic response to an activity that’s already taking place ...
and we’re saying criminalization is making it worse,” he said.
Decriminalizing
use of all drugs is a controversial recommendation in North America,
where Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative government has been
in lockstep with the U.S. federal government against any incremental
moves toward easing drug laws.
Liberal governments under former
prime ministers Jean Chretien and Paul Martin were moving toward
decriminalizing marijuana, but the lection of Harper’s Conservatives in
2006 put an end to that.
However, there are signs attitudes are shifting in the U.S.
Last year, voters in Colorado and Washington passed ballot measures decriminalizing personal use of marijuana in their states.
Public
opinion in Canada is also turning in favour of decriminalizing
cannabis, said MacPherson, whose report goes a step further to recommend
regulating and taxing it.
Pointing toward tobacco as an example,
MacPherson said regulation could decrease cannabis use and do more to
keep it out of the hands of young people.
“It would allow us to
have a full discussion of the benefits, the harms the messaging we want
to put out there with youth and underage users,” he said.
A 2012
study done by researchers in B.C. estimated the value of the province’s
recreational marijuana market at more than $350 million — a lucrative
commodity the government could reap tax revenue from if it was
regulated, MacPherson said.
Instead, the report said the federal
government has set aside $528 million between 2012 and 2017 for its
National Anti-Drug plan, with most of that money going toward law
enforcement.
The coalition says Canada’s approach is out of step
with an increasing number of countries that are decriminalizing drugs
and seeing benefits — including Portugal, which decriminalized all
illicit drugs in 2001.
“In Portugal decriminalization has had the
effect of decreasing the numbers of people injecting drugs, decreasing
the number of people using drugs problematically, and decreasing trends
of drug use among 15 to 24 year olds,” the coalition’s 112-page report
says.
The Portuguese findings were republished from a 2011 study
by British researchers, who said the role of decriminalization in
Portugal’s decreases is debatable.
Release Quiet Revolution Drug Decriminalisation Policies
“But
the evidence appears clear that decriminalization has not been the
disaster critics had said it would be,” wrote Ari Rosmarin and Niamh
Eastwood, co-authors of the U.K. study.
The British researchers,
who compared drug policies around the world, also said decriminalization
isn’t a cure-all but it’s preferable to prohibition.
“What emerges is that the harms of criminalization far outweigh those of decriminalization,” they wrote.


source:-
http://www.calgaryherald.com/health/Report+calls+decriminalizing+both+hard+soft+drugs/8424013/story.html
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