Punitive drug laws and policies purported to deter drug use have failed — and worse, they have done catastrophic harm. They have fueled deadly stigma; epidemics of preventable illness and death; poverty; homelessness; and widespread, systematic, and egregious violations of human rights. They are rooted in, and have reinforced, sexism, racism, and colonialism. They have destroyed lives, torn families apart, and undermined communities’ well-being and safety. They have wasted inordinate sums of public money to cause terrible damage.
Recognizing the many lives that have been lost and ruined to the state-sanctioned “war on drugs,” we must act to end the harm. We must stop stigmatizing drug use and pointlessly punishing people who use drugs. We must expand harm reduction programs; ensure access to non-coercive, evidence-informed treatment and supports; scale up safe supply measures; and ensure that policies, programs, and services protect and promote health and socio-economic wellbeing. At the heart of these reforms must be efforts focused on reducing poverty; ensuring access to housing; and combatting violence, sexism, racism, discrimination, and implementing the Calls to Action in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report and the Calls to Justice in the report of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Inquiry, and other commitments.
Decriminalizing personal drug possession and necessity trafficking are fundamental, necessary steps towards a more rational and just drug policy, and away from our current anti-drug policies. It is a change that is long overdue.