Pubdate: Wed, 01 Oct 2014
Source: Daily Press, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2014 Sun Media
Author: Giuseppe Valiante
Cited: Canadian Drug Policy Coalition:
Page: 6


OTTAWA - Canada's drug policy is a failure and it is killing people 
in communities across the country, drug-reform activists said Tuesday 
in Ottawa.

Drug activists, health lobbyists and other leaders in the field, 
including the Liberal Party's health critic, gathered on Parliament 
Hill for a press conference to advocate for a fairer drug policy than 
the current one they say unfairly criminalizes drugs users and leads 
to the mistreatment of addiction.

The speakers on Tuesday all wanted Canada's drug policies reformed, 
but the divergence in their messages reflected the difficulties in 
rallying public opinion in favour of changing the way addicts are 
treated and how drugs are distributed in Canada.

Donna May, founder of an addiction-awareness group called Jack's 
Voice, said heroin should be legalized so users have access to more 
pure and safer strains of the drug.

Liberal health critic Hedy Fry wouldn't weigh in on legalizing 
heroin. She said Canadians' attitudes towards addiction need to 
change before politicians discuss legalizing hard drugs.

The drug-reform activists said they will meet with politicians in 
Ottawa to try and change perceptions around addiction and drug use.

Fry said politicians, doctors and citizens often see addiction as 
criminal behaviour instead of as a disease.

Addicts are stigmatized and, as a consequence, are often jailed as 
opposed to treated, she said.

Guy Pierre Levesque, who runs a support group for people who take 
opiates, as well as Don MacPherson, head of the Canadian Drug Policy 
Coalition, said Tuesday the government needs to make the overdose 
drug, Naloxone, more available.

Naloxone, used to treat a drug overdose and currently available by 
prescription only, should be carried around by drug users in case of 
accidental overdose, and the drug should be available in all 
treatment centres, they said.
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