Harm reduction strategies in Canada, such as safe injection sites (SIS) have been proven to be an effective strategy to control the effects of injection drug use (Small et al., 2011). The proven effectiveness of these strategies renders the governments’ “war on drugs” and criminalization strategies ideological. The Toronto Board of Health meeting that took place on July 10, 2013 where public health officials, community organizations, previous injection drug users (IDUs) and their families spoke in favour of opening a SIS. Furthermore, the Conservative government has recently started a “Keep Heroine out of our Backyards” campaign and created Bill C-65 to make it more difficult to open SIS. I wish to look at different newspaper articles from the Toronto Sun and
History and Literature Review: War on drugs, harm reduction and Insite
The war on drugs, which started in the United States, has become widespread in many countries around the world, and increasingly so in Canada (Odeh, 2013). It has been shown that the war on drugs is an inefficient way to minimize or even control drug use and possession (Odeh, 2013). This begs the question then as to why the war on drugs is still being waged with increasing force. The United States, which started the war on drugs, now has the highest prison population per capita in the world, with 730 of every 100,000 people imprisoned (Odeh, 2013). Furthermore, more than half of these people in prison are serving sentences for drug crimes (Odeh, 2013). Despite the fact that it costs taxpayers a lot of money, with no results; drug use and the amount of drugs in the US hasn’t decreased, the war on drugs has not stopped. While some Americans, even very conservative ones (CBC, 2011) have come to the conclusion that criminalization and incarceration doesn’t work, Canada has continued to get tougher on drugs. “Canadian officials elected in May 2011 decided to overhaul their drug sentencing system. A newly proposed bill, entitled the Safe Streets and Communities Act, will largely emulate the US sentencing framework, despite its highly documented failure to achieve even the modest success in the US war on drugs” (Odeh, 2013, p.200). Since the Conservatives won a majority government, new laws imposed including mandatory minimum sentences for marijuana possession will further the war on drugs in Canada.
Harm reduction strategies take a different stance on drug use. Harm reduction strategies understand that people will use drugs whether they are legal or not, thus the goal is to reduce the harm to the user rather than criminalize them (Single, 1995). Harm reduction is generally anything that seeks to reduce the physically or socially harmful effects of drug use (Beirness, Jesseman, Notarandrea, Perron, 2008). This could refer to most policies and programs, but what is specific about harm reduction is that it does not require the user to stop using drugs (Beirness et al., 2008). Furthermore, harm reduction understands that people...