*******************For Immediate Release*******************
Coalition urges Canadian government to acknowledge link between drug laws and HIV.
Today, the Global Commission on Drug Policy released a groundbreaking report that explains how the criminalization of drugs is fueling the HIV pandemic among people who use drugs and their sexual partners.
Comprised of six former presidents and a distinguished group of world leaders, the commission denounced the war on drugs as a costly failure and recommended major reforms to drug prohibition to halt the spread of HIV.
The report also documents how the fight against HIV is being won in countries where injection drug use is treated as a health issue. In Australia and European countries such as Portugal and Switzerland, newly diagnosed HIV infections have been nearly eliminated among people who use drugs.
While Canada often prides itself as being a leader on the global stage, it is lagging when it comes to the expansion of harm reduction services.
The federal government’s recent passage of omnibus crime legislation prescribes mandatory minimum penalties for drug offences. This will increase incarceration rates throughout Canada’s already crowded prisons, and due to a lack of access to harm reduction services such as syringe exchanges, will contribute to the spread of HIV and endanger public health.
The Canadian Drug Policy Coalition (CDPC) urges the government to acknowledge the link between drug laws and public health and to support the expansion of harm reduction services that have been proven to counteract the spread of HIV.
“It is clear that the war on drugs is causing more harm than good. There is overwhelming evidence that using the criminal law in an attempt to control some drugs has been a catastrophic failure. In light of the growing global epidemic of HIV in relation to injection drug use and the many unintended consequences of the drug war, including the rapid growth of organized criminal groups, changes in direction should be considered. CDPC is calling for a national dialogue to engage Canadians and consider alternative approaches to drug problems that embrace public health principles and explore alternative methods of regulating and controlling drugs," said Donald MacPherson, Executive Director of the coalition.
For more information contact:
Canadian Drug Policy Coalition