Criminalizing the use of marijuana and other tough on crime approaches haven’t worked, say public health doctors from across Canada who propose taxation and regulation instead.
The chief medical health officers in British Columbia, Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan wrote a paper reviewing the evidence on Canada’s current illicit drug policies in Wednesday’s issue of the journal Open Medicine.
The paper comes as the federal government is set to table its budget amid funding questions for its new anti-crime legislation, which includes mandatory minimum sentences for minor drug offences.
Looking at illegal drugs solely based on a criminal justice approach has failed, said Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical health officer, a co-author of the paper.
“For the last decade, Portugal has decriminalized all drug use and they have some of the lowest rates of drug use in Europe and they have some of the least amounts of harm from drug use,” Strang said.
In contrast, drug use hasn’t decreased since the $1-trillion US “war on drugs” was declared and aggressive drug law enforcement began.
Seriously, people. All we do when we criminalize drugs is make more criminals. Addiction requires support and healthcare, not jail time. And given that no one actually knows WHY we criminalized marijuana (seriously - there was no debate in the house over it and no explanation why it was added in) and opiates were originally criminalized due to racism against the Chinese, and finally that, oh yeah, THIS IS NOT WORKING ANYWHERE, maybe we should rethink this criminalization strategy.