Middle Path is the Right Approach to Regulating Drugs

The Supreme Court of Canada recently instructed Ottawa to issue a federal exemption to Insite, North America’s first, recognized supervised injection site. The Court highlighted evidence of Insite’s achievements in saving lives, reducing the spread of infections and improving the health of people who inject drugs. This important decision will open the door to a more humane, pragmatic and evidence-based approach to drug problems in our communities. Too often, important public policy decisions about drugs are made with little regard for the evidence and over reliance on ideology, political expedience and/or opportunism. The need to change this practice is critical as each day of delay costs lives and results in human suffering.

This year, many of Canada’s leading experts in drug policy formed the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition (CDPC) a national civil society organization to advance changes in Canadian policy. CDPC is comprised of researchers, public health officials, front-line harm reduction and treatment providers, people who use drugs, HIV/AIDS ser-vice organizations, youth organizations, parents, and community members, all concerned with the health and safety outcomes of our drug strategies.

Based at Simon Fraser University’s Centre for Applied Research in Mental Health and Addiction, the Coalition’s key goals include: shining the light of evidence on all drug problems, fostering informed discussion on drug policy and supporting leader-ship to develop effective responses to problems stemming from substance use and related policies.

Today, the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition launches a national program of public discussion, education and advocacy for reform of Canada’s drug policies and legislation in partner-ship with the Health Officers Council of B.C. (HOC). In their discussion paper: Public Health Perspectives for Regulating Psychoactive Substances HOC articulates a vision of how public policy on all psychoactive substances, whether legal or illegal, should be developed if health, safety and social development outcomes are a priority.

The negative health and social effects of the use of, and polices related to, alcohol, tobacco, prescription drugs, and illegal substances are substantial and largely preventable. Human and health care costs are huge. The use of non-prescription substances is estimated to account for 21 per cent of all deaths in Canada and costs $40 billion a year. Of this, tobacco contributes 43 per cent, alcohol 36 per cent and other substances 21 per cent. These numbers are shocking.

Evidence shows that both prohibition of psychoactive substances at one extreme and unregulated, free-market access, at the other, increase the harms from use. Somewhere between these two extremes lie models of regulated access guided by public health principles that balance costs and benefits for individuals and society.

This does not necessarily mean legalization of currently illegal substances, nor does it reject that possibility. A public health approach uses the best evidence and focuses on promoting health and preventing illness, injury, premature death and disability.

HOC has three recommendations. First, governments should use our public health framework to evaluate and update laws on all psychoactive substances so they encompass a public health approach to regulation including taxation. Second, governments should lead by including all those groups with interests in the production, dissemination, or use of these substances to develop solutions, which respect economic and public health principles. Finally, we call for a national inquiry to recommend exactly how to proceed using the growing body of evidence of what works (and what doesn’t) for reducing the harm, and increasing the benefits associated with psychoactive substances.

Donald MacPherson is the director of the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition, and author of Vancouver’s Four Pillars Drug Strategy. Dr. John Carsley is a public health and preventive medicine specialist and a member of the Health Officers Council of B.C.

– Article from The Vancouver Sun.



  1. Anonymous on

    I see them talking a lot while saying next to nothing. It’s likely their task to sit on the fence and try to play middle ground to position themselves as the middle man and remain relevant despite whatever changes come.

    I don’t think we have to nor should we be accepting of that just because they might do something that could benefit us in some small way.

    I’m sure we’ve all seen it too often already and blind support for that kind of predation seems to be the expected response, while it’s most likely only going to be counter productive.

    I’ll try to give a hoot when they actually release something of real substance, based on facts and not the politically correct middle ground that others have paved smooth with their very lives and made comfortable for them already.

    Compromising with propaganda is not a science based policy and is a step backwards.

  2. Anonymous on

    Unless they simultaneously address the fallacy of pharmaceuticals being “medicine” instead of drugs, that can only do good, and are never abused, particularly as they’re abused at the legistlative, law enforcement, manufacturer, regulator, prescriber and dispenser, levels, which act as redundant gateways supposedly for protection, safety and responsible use, that in pratice tend to act more as gatekeepers, each having their hands outs and in our pockets and coffins making fistfulls of cash.. then it’s all for naught.

    Because, it is that black plague’s existence, and the unspoken ignorance of it, that keeps us all prisoners, both literally and figuratively.

    If you want to talk about responsible use and harm reduction you damn well better look at the other side of that coin or we’re simply never going to get anywhere.

    Kind of like that “doctor” in Ontario that helped kill two people with his carefree prescriptions for oxycontin.. and the only thing he got for double homicide was a ban from prescribing narcotics…. but hey let’s talk about safe streets and communities:


    He looks forward to continuing his practice. Who are the real monsters.

    The way people, public and media seem to accept without question that government and corporate industry, including our collective of government paid white coat crack pushers called doctors, are at all actually concerned or tasked with out best interests and wellbeing, is not at all supported by the facts and the mechanics or their operations in practice.

    If government fully implemented their supposed “pharmaceutical distribution model” of their dreams for marijuana, then we would have to go to grade school and buy our weed from kids who were overprescribed it by their doctors for non science based and non testable en-vogue diseases du jour that they don’t have.

  3. Paul Pot on

    “Evidence shows that both prohibition of psychoactive substances at one extreme and unregulated, free-market access, at the other, increase the harms from use.”

    Could someone please tell me where the evidence for drugs having some harm in a totally unregulated society comes from. Presumably there is a country out there where drugs are totally legal and unregulated. I’d really like to know where this mythical country is so I can go there and see for myself. Maybe I’ll meet the author of this statement there and he’ll be able to show me the dangers of fully unregulated drug use.

    The fact is there was no drug problem before prohibition.

    The problem was too many asians, blacks, and mexicans entering the country. Opium and cannabis prohibition seemed like a great way of getting rid of these undesirables. Only problem was these people did not go away and the whites started doing these drugs too.

    These drugs are weeds that should be growing everywhere for the benefit of people in need of relief from chronic illness and accidental injury.

    Using potential addiction in some as an excuse to remove peoples right to access to essential medicines is just that, an excuse for committing crimes against innocent people.

    Prohibition is a crime against humanity and our elders and betters have no right to separate people from their nature.

  4. Anonymous on


    The Federal Tort Claims Act or “FTCA”, (June 25, 1948, ch. 646, Title IV, 62 Stat. 982, “28 U.S.C. Pt.VI Ch.171” and 28 U.S.C. § 1346(b)), is a statute enacted by the United States Congress in 1948. “Federal Tort Claims Act” was also previously the official short title passed by the Seventy-ninth Congress on August 2, 1946 as Title IV of the Legislative Reorganization Act, 60 Stat. 842, which was classified principally to chapter 20 (§§ 921, 922, 931–934, 941–946) of former Title 28, Judicial Code and Judiciary.
    That Title IV of the Legislative Reorganization Act act of August 2, 1946 was substantially repealed and reenacted as sections 1346 (b) and 2671 et seq. of this title by act June 25, 1948, ch. 646, 62 Stat. 982, the first section of which enacted this title (Tort Claims Procedure). [1]
    The FTCA permits private parties to sue the United States in a federal court for most torts committed by persons acting on behalf of the United States. The FTCA constitutes a limited waiver of sovereign immunity.

    The Federal Tort Claims Act of 1946, for the first time, gave American citizens the right to sue the federal government.” [4]

    Bill O’Reilly Thinks Medical Marijuana is a Sneaky Plot to Give People Medicine, Or Something

    Bill O’Reilly’s indignant posturing is typical of the contemporary medical marijuana skeptic: I have no problem with medical use, but any plan for supplying patients is a fraud and anyone who grows or sells marijuana is a scumbag.


    The primary reason for this communication was to create an awareness of the methods of omission used by all parties in this great crime against humanity itself. Now if you look closely you will not find the mentioning of powerful antibiotic actions of marijuana nor will you find the mentioning of the Lyme plague (Lyme disease primarily is treated with powerful antibiotics ) which was so disturbing to myself — you the reader are being directed to these specific omitted facts with all the background provided.

    Cannabis plant extracts can effectively fight drug-resistant bacteria.

    Antibacterial Cannabinoids from Cannabis sativa

    The audience of the communication has at length in time now been exposed to the Lyme plague instrumented by the United States Government and their facilitating agents. The email sent out by Joseph Mercola clearly demonstrates the aggressive actions by the criminal parties which must be responded to with every action possible.

    Thus the difficult yet apparent facts of this bio weapon being empowered by marijuana Prohibition comes to light. This is the 2012 moment and we have to prosecute this crime.