Pubdate: Wed, 12 Apr 2017
Source: Globe and Mail (Canada)
Copyright: 2017 The Globe and Mail Company
Author: Dennis Long
Page: A10


Re Why Stop With Pot? Let's Decriminalize All Drugs (April 11): I
strongly agree with Andre Picard that all drugs should be
decriminalized. As a provider of treatment for drug dependence, I know
that drug addiction is a treatable condition.

The ludicrous idea that society can legislate its way to becoming
drug-free has been proven to be futile. I have seen firsthand the
devastation criminalization has imposed on drug users and their
families. This must stop.

The scientifically supported way of dealing with this problem is by
effective and available harm reduction and treatment. This is a social
and public health problem that cannot be ameliorated by criminal
sanctions and incarceration.

We are suffering from an unprecedented overdose crisis, yet as Mr.
Picard notes, our responses have been inadequate: Treatment facilities
are under-resourced to the point of having to restrict access;
harm-reduction initiatives such as supervised injection sites and
heroin prescription programs, although supported in principle, remain
for the most part unfunded while both levels of government dither
about paying for them. In the meanwhile, people suffer and die.

It is time for Canada to adopt a mature and sensible approach to drug
use. Criminalizing drug users is not the way to do this.

Dennis Long, professor, addictions and mental health, Guelph-Humber
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