Pubdate: Wed, 09 Aug 2017
Source: Toronto Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 The Toronto Star
Author: Sandra Ka Hon Chu
Page: 12


Re Think twice before decriminalizing drugs,

DiManno, Aug. 7 Citing Portugal's experience, Rosie DiManno recently
argued that decriminalizing drugs isn't a solution to dealing with the
opioid overdose crisis in Canada.

This is not rooted in fact. Our current crisis stems from a deadly,
illegal drug supply.

If Canada decriminalized drugs and created a legal, regulated supply,
fewer people would die.

After Portugal decriminalized drug use in 2001, there was a remarkable
increase in uptake of treatment, and drug-caused deaths and HIV
infection from injection drug use plummeted.

While drug violence may have persisted, studies show this will always
be the case wherever there is a market for illegal drugs.
Decriminalizing and legalizing drugs are necessary if we are to
meaningfully address drug-market violence.

Treating drug use as a health issue - rather than a criminal one -
would also reduce the stigma and discrimination faced by people who
use drugs. It's a shame DiManno perpetuates this stigma by referring
to them as "junkies."

Indisputably, the "war on drugs" has failed. Canada must move to
decriminalize drugs and ditch the disastrous "frayed leash" of
illegality. Lives depend on it.

Sandra Ka Hon Chu, director of research and advocacy, Canadian
HIV/AIDS Legal Network, Toronto
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