Jagmeet Singh Pushes Trudeau to Decriminalize All Drugs

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jerrym
Jagmeet Singh Pushes Trudeau to Decriminalize All Drugs

As the number of drug-related deaths grow exponentially in BC and spreads across Canada, Jagmeet Singh continues to pressure Trudeau to decriminalize all drugs, citing Portugal's success in reducing such deaths since it decriminalized all drugs in 2001.

Singh, who campaigned on the promise during his party's recent leadership race, said he will push the federal New Democrats to make the position part of its own formal policy platform.  The NDP is scheduled to hold a policy convention in Ottawa in February. ...

In his legal practice, Singh said he witnessed first-hand how the current criminal approach is failing. "We are prosecuting people and incarcerating people that don't need to be incarcerated," he said. "These are folks that need to be helped and supported."

The majority of Canadians struggling with opioid addiction are also battling problems like mental health challenges and poverty, Singh said, noting that he would exclude drug trafficking from any decriminalization efforts. ...

His comments come as Canadian health-care experts, including B.C.'s provincial health officer, urge the federal government to strongly consider borrowing from Portugal's approach to drug policy, including decriminalizing personal possession of illicit drugs.

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2017/11/07/jagmeet-singh-pushes-trudeau-to-...

 

jerrym

On CBC's Sunday Scrum today all three panelists as the video below shows, even the conservative John Ibbotson agreed that decriminalization for possession needs to occur. Their disagreement was on the rate at which it should be introduced. 

http://www.cbc.ca/player/play/1094260291964

 

jerrym

Portugal's decriminalizing of drugs has helped it have the a much lower drug death rate than virtually every other country. Meanwhile in Canada and the US drug deaths are rising faster than ever. They are already the leading cause of death in the U.S. for those under 50.(https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/counseling-keys/201711/drug-overdos...). 

Portugal decriminalised the use of all drugs in 2001. Weed, cocaine, heroin, you name it — Portugal decided to treat possession and use of small quantities of these drugs as a public health issue, not a criminal one. The drugs were still illegal, of course. But now getting caught with them meant a small fine and maybe a referral to a treatment program — not jail time and a criminal record.

Among Portuguese adults, there are 3 drug overdose deaths for every 1,000,000 citizens. Comparable numbers in other countries range from 10.2 per million in the Netherlands to 44.6 per million in the UK, all the way up to 126.8 per million in Estonia. The EU average is 17.3 per million.

Perhaps more significantly, the report notes that the use of "legal highs" – like so-called "synthetic" marijuana, "bath salts" and the like – is lower in Portugal than in any of the other countries for which reliable data exists. This makes a lot of intuitive sense: why bother with fake weed or dangerous designer drugs when you can get the real stuff? This is arguably a positive development for public health in the sense that many of the designer drugs that people develop to skirt existing drug laws have terrible and often deadly side effects.

 

drugs-portugal.jpgDrug use and drug deaths are complicated phenomena. They have many underlying causes. Portugal's low death rate can't be attributable solely to decriminalisation. ...

As the Transform Drug Policy Institute says in its analysis of Portugal's drug laws, "The reality is that Portugal’s drug situation has improved significantly in several key areas. Most notably, HIV infections and drug-related deaths have decreased, while the dramatic rise in use feared by some has failed to materialise."

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/portugal-decriminalised-d...

WWWTT

Unlike many other industrialized countries, Portagal has a lot of other things going for it. First off the climate. It's one of the best in the world! The relaxed culture. I personally feel that the fast high pace go go life in western nations such as Canada where people have to be always working every day to make ends meet causes too much stress and contributes to addiction/poor health over all issues. And then there's the obvious fact that Portugal is a socialist country with a true socialist charter to protect workers! This socialist embrace is what I believe leads to other policy changes that benefit the peoples in the first place!

In a way Jagmeet has it wrong. Instead, it would be more productive for Canada to change the Charter of rights and freedoms  to protect workers and the peoples lives better. Giving Canadians the right to vote is nothing next to giving the workers the right to  holidays/vacations /safety, workers rights etc etc! But this is asking way way too much of the corporate masters of Canada. No way would they ever go for this.

Pondering

WWWTT wrote:

In a way Jagmeet has it wrong. Instead, it would be more productive for Canada to change the Charter of rights and freedoms  to protect workers and the peoples lives better. Giving Canadians the right to vote is nothing next to giving the workers the right to  holidays/vacations /safety, workers rights etc etc! But this is asking way way too much of the corporate masters of Canada. No way would they ever go for this.

It isn't an either or situation. This is a principled and evidence-based stand to take. 

lagatta4

I agree with Pondering. Supporting decriminalisation of drug USE (not of hard-drug trafficking) is in no way thinking that people should be junkies. It saves live, reduces drug-related crime and makes it easier for users to access help if they want to cease or control their use.

Yes, of course we have to fight for democratic and social rights. Unfortunately not much we can do about the weather...

jerrym

WWWTT wrote:

Unlike many other industrialized countries, Portagal has a lot of other things going for it. First off the climate. It's one of the best in the world! The relaxed culture. I personally feel that the fast high pace go go life in western nations such as Canada where people have to be always working every day to make ends meet causes too much stress and contributes to addiction/poor health over all issues. And then there's the obvious fact that Portugal is a socialist country with a true socialist charter to protect workers! This socialist embrace is what I believe leads to other policy changes that benefit the peoples in the first place!

In a way Jagmeet has it wrong. Instead, it would be more productive for Canada to change the Charter of rights and freedoms  to protect workers and the peoples lives better. Giving Canadians the right to vote is nothing next to giving the workers the right to  holidays/vacations /safety, workers rights etc etc! But this is asking way way too much of the corporate masters of Canada. No way would they ever go for this.

When drugs become the largest killer of those under 50 in the US as referenced in post #3 and the problem is escalating exponentially here, with Canada being the #2 country in opioid use, it's time to look at changing our 100 year old prohibition drug policies instead of banging our heads against the wall and continuing to do the same thing. 

Part of the problem is also the promotion of legal prescription opioid use by the pharmaceutical industry since the 1980s as CBS's 60 Minutes program on the revolving door between Congress and pharmaceutical lobbyists (https://www.cbsnews.com/news/why-60-minutes-dea-story-made-americans-so-...).

What is needed is stronger regulation of the legal industry and better education of medical practioners and the public on the drug problem to help reduce pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical abuse. 

Declining smoking prevalence in Canada, 1965 to 2010

https://www.med.uottawa.ca/sim/data/Smoking_Rates_e.htm

 

The reduction of the percentage of the population that smokes cigarettes from 60% of men and 40% of women in the 1960s to 20% for men and 15% for women in Canada has occurred through education and regulation, not criminalization and imprisonment.(https://www.med.uottawa.ca/sim/data/Smoking_Rates_e.htm)

Similar techniques can help address the drug addiction problem, when combined with social justice programs that address the poverty, mental illness, loss of jobs, sexual and physical abuse that often drive people towards addiction. 

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Quote:
It saves live, reduces drug-related crime and makes it easier for users to access help if they want to cease or control their use.

I expect you're right with points #1 and #3.

But I'd always associated drug-related crime with the cost of drugs, and unless we decriminalize trafficking in heroin and meth, I don't see that cost coming down.  Not that I'm advocating that we should decriminalize that too, but decriminalizing possession and use, while pouring resources into stopping sales, does seem like one of those peculiarly Canadian approaches. 

And really, if we were to become 99% efficient at intercepting drug shipments and preventing sales, I doubt that many drug users would be delighted to know that they won't be jailed for possessing or using the drug that's now all but unavailable to them anyway.

bekayne

WWWTT wrote:

Unlike many other industrialized countries, Portagal has a lot of other things going for it. First off the climate. It's one of the best in the world!

Looking at the countries at the top (or bottom ) of that chart, I think you may have a point.

lagatta4

Mr Magoo, at some point declared heroin addicts in the UK could secure their drug of choice at the chemist's ... aka the pharmacy. I agree that it should be affordable.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Quote:
Mr Magoo, at some point declared heroin addicts in the UK could secure their drug of choice at the chemist's ... aka the pharmacy.

Well, pharmacies don't generally stock heroin, though they do stock hydromorphone, which seems to be the "GM" version of heroin (I've had it; it works!).  But is there a therapeutic version of meth?  Or angel dust?  What shall we tell committed users of drugs that have no therapeutic, prescribed equivalent?

WWWTT

I’m in agreement with everyone else here so far. And with Jagmeet’s approach! Jagmeet’s absolutely right on the money with this one. It’s also going to take years to see this one through and require a lot more creative thinking to address the unique characteristics Canadian people have and the circumstances leading to these far too many deaths. 

However, I don’t think we can see the wild success Portugal has had without changing the charter and a huge chunk of culture demographics  

For a country like Canada, Portugal is not an easy act to follow!

 

Pondering

Mr. Magoo wrote:

Quote:
Mr Magoo, at some point declared heroin addicts in the UK could secure their drug of choice at the chemist's ... aka the pharmacy.

Well, pharmacies don't generally stock heroin, though they do stock hydromorphone, which seems to be the "GM" version of heroin (I've had it; it works!).  But is there a therapeutic version of meth?  Or angel dust?  What shall we tell committed users of drugs that have no therapeutic, prescribed equivalent?

There is no magic wand. Decriminalizing personal use helps. It means addicts can call for help if a friend is ODing without fear of arrest. It frees money to move from law enforcement to health care. It prevents people from getting criminal records. 

 

Pondering

Moving on.....

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/jagmeet-singh-nova-scotia-ndp-...

On his inaugural visit to Atlantic Canada as the leader of the federal NDP, Jagmeet Singh signaled his commitment to tackling health-care concerns in Nova Scotia. 

 

Singh, who's in the Halifax area until Monday, said he's hearing that the number of people without a family doctor is high on the list of problems. Implementing a national pharmacare program could be part of the solution, he said....

In addition to health care, Singh said the big issues for Atlantic Canada include protecting the environment, especially coastlines.

He said under his leadership, the party will continue to invest in programs for Canadians. 

 

"If things are difficult and when times are down, I want to make sure it's clear that New Democrats don't believe in austerity," he said.

Sounds good to me. I'm glad he is letting others go after Trudeau while he builds a positive image with Canadians. He went to a Christmas event. That was smart. It will help dispel prejudice. 

WWWTT

bekayne wrote:

WWWTT wrote:

Unlike many other industrialized countries, Portagal has a lot of other things going for it. First off the climate. It's one of the best in the world!

Looking at the countries at the top (or bottom ) of that chart, I think you may have a point.

ya that’s an odd one hey?  Unfortunately the chart only covers central to Western Europe. I tried looking for other data from around the world but need to search more. So far here’s my theory (but this can easily change) in warmer more hospitable climates, there’s a greater chance you’ll be active outdoors and socialize. The reverse in colder countries where people stay indoors, in the privacy of their own home.  Also the length of day or the amount of sunshine your body receives wildly fluctuates in northern colder climates. I believe this has a negative impact on health and addiction is a health issue, not a criminal issue! 

alan smithee alan smithee's picture

Mr. Magoo wrote:

Quote:
It saves live, reduces drug-related crime and makes it easier for users to access help if they want to cease or control their use.

I expect you're right with points #1 and #3.

But I'd always associated drug-related crime with the cost of drugs, and unless we decriminalize trafficking in heroin and meth, I don't see that cost coming down. 

If heroin was sold at wholesale price (actual price of 1 gram of pure heroin in Afghanistan is $1 - $3 American)

If this were the case,a heroin addict could take care of his or her addiction at the cost a pack of cigarettes.

The underground cannot compete with $3-$5/a gram pure unstepped on drugs(users would know exactly what they are buying.) The cost of smuggling it would trump any chance of making a profit..Or at least a profit so low it's not worth the risks. 

This would kill drug-related crime.

Legalize,tax,regulate...That would make meth,krokidil and drugs like that that were created in someone's bath tub a thing of the past..That may feed an underground scene..But with  clean drugs that you'd be able to buy at the price of a pack of smokes,(cheaper the less harmful the drug),organized crime just would be in the red for the first time.

I think it's high time (it's been 110 years since our first drug law) to stop people from becoming victims of the drug law. It's the drug laws that sky rocket prices,decreases supply and causes crimes,not because they're on drugs,because the price)

The true generator of crime is money. It always has and it always will.

WWWTT

jerrym wrote:

WWWTT wrote:

Unlike many other industrialized countries, Portagal has a lot of other things going for it. First off the climate. It's one of the best in the world! The relaxed culture. I personally feel that the fast high pace go go life in western nations such as Canada where people have to be always working every day to make ends meet causes too much stress and contributes to addiction/poor health over all issues. And then there's the obvious fact that Portugal is a socialist country with a true socialist charter to protect workers! This socialist embrace is what I believe leads to other policy changes that benefit the peoples in the first place!

In a way Jagmeet has it wrong. Instead, it would be more productive for Canada to change the Charter of rights and freedoms  to protect workers and the peoples lives better. Giving Canadians the right to vote is nothing next to giving the workers the right to  holidays/vacations /safety, workers rights etc etc! But this is asking way way too much of the corporate masters of Canada. No way would they ever go for this.

When drugs become the largest killer of those under 50 in the US as referenced in post #3 and the problem is escalating exponentially here, with Canada being the #2 country in opioid use, it's time to look at changing our 100 year old prohibition drug policies instead of banging our heads against the wall and continuing to do the same thing. 

Part of the problem is also the promotion of legal prescription opioid use by the pharmaceutical industry since the 1980s as CBS's 60 Minutes program on the revolving door between Congress and pharmaceutical lobbyists (https://www.cbsnews.com/news/why-60-minutes-dea-story-made-americans-so-...).

What is needed is stronger regulation of the legal industry and better education of medical practioners and the public on the drug problem to help reduce pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical abuse. 

Declining smoking prevalence in Canada, 1965 to 2010

https://www.med.uottawa.ca/sim/data/Smoking_Rates_e.htm

 

The reduction of the percentage of the population that smokes cigarettes from 60% of men and 40% of women in the 1960s to 20% for men and 15% for women in Canada has occurred through education and regulation, not criminalization and imprisonment.(https://www.med.uottawa.ca/sim/data/Smoking_Rates_e.htm)

Similar techniques can help address the drug addiction problem, when combined with social justice programs that address the poverty, mental illness, loss of jobs, sexual and physical abuse that often drive people towards addiction. 

I agree 100% with everything you are adding here! However, from the chart above you posted, there's a zero on the bottom left hand corner! That zero is actually the goal! Not the 20, 15 or even 10!!! We're heading in that direction, this is good! But we're not really there yet are we? There are more factors in my opinion(and life experience I should add!) that are making that zero number a difficult number to attain.

Clearly when hundreds if not thousands of people die every year in Canada from trying to catch a buzz, somethings fuckin wrong! This needs to be addressed aggresively, and the approach that was previously AND currently used doesn't work for fuckin shit! This isn't rocket science as the saying goes.

There are many issues that contribute to the problems, and in order to achieve that zero at the bottom left hand corner, ALL the contributing issues/problems have to be addressed. Sure enough criminalization is the single biggest problem, and I believe all the commentors here agree with this.

Mighty Middle

Liberal MP, Nathaniel Erskine-Smith advocated legalizing all drugs in January 2017

"I'm a member of Trudeau's Liberals and I think the government should decriminalize all drugs"

https://news.vice.com/story/im-a-member-of-trudeaus-liberals-and-i-think...

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Quote:
Legalize,tax,regulate...That would make meth,krokidil and drugs like that that were created in someone's bath tub a thing of the past..That may feed an underground scene..But with  clean drugs that you'd be able to buy at the price of a pack of smokes,(cheaper the less harmful the drug),organized crime just would be in the red for the first time.

As a civil libertarian type, I've always been ready to agree with the legalization of all drugs, with three strict conditions:

1.  people who choose to use a drug agree that they are 100% responsible for anything they do while under the influence of that drug -- driving dangerously, assaulting someone, falling asleep and leaving food to catch fire on the stove, whatever. 

2.  people who choose to use a drug acknowledge that that drug may prove to be addictive, and agree that if they become dependent on a drug, they'll need to accept this, or make choices to fix this.

3.  people who choose to use a drug acknowledge that they are 100% responsible for legally funding their own use of that drug.  They're welcome to spend 95% of their income on that drug, if they wish, but turning to theft or fraud to pay for it is a no-no.

If everyone's down with that then let's proceed!

alan smithee alan smithee's picture

Mr. Magoo wrote:

 

As a civil libertarian type, I've always been ready to agree with the legalization of all drugs, with three strict conditions:

 

All 3 of those conditions should apply to alcohol and cigarettes too.

Then I'm with you.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Quote:
All 3 of those conditions should apply to alcohol and cigarettes too.

Of course.

And I should add that I don't propose that the government wash their hands of it all.  Funding for detox, or smoking cessation programs, or counseling shouldn't disappear.  But if you're 18, and a quick click on Wikipedia will tell you that heroin is massively addictive, and you choose to use heroin anyway, I guess I don't want to hear in twenty years how some terrible thing happened when you became addicted, and that's why you had all those arrests and the government didn't fix it for you and none of it was your choice.

And FWIW, I think all three of those do typically apply to cigarettes, notwithstanding a few lawsuits.  And I think two of them apply to alcohol, though there's still plenty of wiggle room if you get super-blotto-drunk and break your partner's jaw, or kill someone.  Unless you were in a car when you did it, your drunkenness will probably be a "mitigating factor".  I'm OK with ditching that silliness too.

voice of the damned

people who choose to use a drug acknowledge that that drug may prove to be addictive, and agree that if they become dependent on a drug, they'll need to accept this, or make choices to fix this.

Well, at the moment, there are a lot of news articles along the lines "What should the government do about the opioid crisis?", the implication of course being that the government DOES have some sort of obligation to do something about it. Does your opinion above indicate that you consider this to be a false premise?

And if the opioid-crisis is too much of a poisoned well(because it was allegedly started by drug companies who should have been more closely regulated), let's just say good old fashioned, 100% recreatonal usage, ie. people who know the risks, but try it anyway out of curiousity,  and then end up addicted and sticking dirty needles in their arms in skid row flophouses. Does "making choices to fix this", in your view, mean that they have to pay for those choices out of pocket?

voice of the damned

Magoo:

I think you sort of answered my question in your cross-post, though if I'm reading it correctly, you seem to be saying that the government DOES have an obligation to help the originally recreational addict, but that if the government falls short in their duties, the addict shouldn't complain? I'm not sure how you would square the circle there.

EDIT: Just to sum it up, if someone has an obligation to me, and they fail to perform it, I should have a right to complain. And if I have no right to complain, it's because there was never an obligation to begin with.

 

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

I suppose my response -- and it's just my opinion -- would be that the government SHOULD do what it can to help, regardless of whether someone took oxycontin on the advice of their physician, or tried heroin because Kurt Cobain was kewl.

But given that we know, and have all known for years, that some drugs are pretty much inevitably addictive, it gets harder and harder all the time to feel that someone's addiction (to heroin, to alcohol, to nicotine...) is analogous to a disease.  If you recreationally use heroin long enough, you'll almost certainly become dependent.  We know this -- addiction is pretty much what we first think of when we think of heroin use.  It's not some recent study result that surprises anyone.

If you became addicted to heroin back when it was still in some cough syrups and people thought it was harmless, consider yourself exempt.  But if you became addicted long after the addictive nature of heroin was pretty much common knowledge, I don't feel the goverment has a duty to bend heaven and earth to fix it for you.  They might (and should) make an effort to help, but it's not everyone's problem so much as it's yours.

cco

What policies would you consider "bending heaven and earth" vs. "helping"? I don't think anyone's arguing the government should give you a cash bonus for being an addict (granted governments have gotten revenue from tobacco lawsuits, but that was more them trying to cover their own health expenses than rewarding people for their poor decisions).

There's still this curiously Protestant attitude that any sufficiently moralized affliction of which one could say "They should've known better!" is one where the government can wash its hands. Crack's always the crack addict's fault. Heroin used to always be the heroin addict's fault, but now that more white people are using it, it's an "epidemic". Is obesity the fault of those who eat junk food? Is AIDS the fault of those who have unprotected sex? What about pregnancy? It's been a known consequence of sex for the entirety of human existence, and yet the government covers both its termination and its continuance to term.

And of course, when a soldier in a war zone gets shot, the nation lines up along the Highway of Heroes, despite the fact being killed is a long-known effect of going into combat to kill others. Failure to support wounded veterans is a perennial political scandal, unless of course they become addicted to painkillers, at which point they really should've known better.

Many of the people reading this will find these to be revolting comparisons, for exactly the reason I'm pointing them out: they're consequences of the moralizing just-world fallacy, wherein our degree of sympathy for someone's problems is directly proportional to how much we can assign blame for them, and in so doing, reassure ourselves we'd never have been in the same boat. Health care is a universal right, unless someone knowingly did something that made them unhealthy, and it wasn't something society's decided to encourage.

Pondering

Mr. Magoo wrote:

I suppose my response -- and it's just my opinion -- would be that the government SHOULD do what it can to help, regardless of whether someone took oxycontin on the advice of their physician, or tried heroin because Kurt Cobain was kewl.

But given that we know, and have all known for years, that some drugs are pretty much inevitably addictive, it gets harder and harder all the time to feel that someone's addiction (to heroin, to alcohol, to nicotine...) is analogous to a disease.  If you recreationally use heroin long enough, you'll almost certainly become dependent.  We know this -- addiction is pretty much what we first think of when we think of heroin use.  It's not some recent study result that surprises anyone.

If you became addicted to heroin back when it was still in some cough syrups and people thought it was harmless, consider yourself exempt.  But if you became addicted long after the addictive nature of heroin was pretty much common knowledge, I don't feel the goverment has a duty to bend heaven and earth to fix it for you.  They might (and should) make an effort to help, but it's not everyone's problem so much as it's yours.

People become addicted because they made a bad choice, often when they were immature or emotionally disturbed. People also make the bad choices of eating too much, or eating the wrong things, or failing to exercise enough. We still still don't say "they should have known better so they should pay for it". People in accidents 10 kilometers above speed limit should also pay their own way and not expect our health care system to look after them. It's not like they don't know the faster they go the more the damage. No avalanche or wilderness rescues either. And skiing! Skiing injuries shouldn't be covered....

You could go on forever on the things people do that are risky and result in costs to society. 

A punitive approach to drug addiction doesn't work. Health care approaches have had limited success. For those who have been through treatment programs that haven't worked drug replacement therapy has sometimes allowed them to resume productive lives. 

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Quote:
What policies would you consider "bending heaven and earth" vs. "helping"?

I suppose we might look for guidance to the ways that the government deals with alcohol or tobacco addiction right now.  They'll give you a pamphlet about quitting, and there may be some services available if you want them, but the government doesn't take primary responsibility for your smoking or drinking habit, and I guess that's what I'm suggesting would be appropriate if we were to treat all drugs like tobacco and alcohol.

Quote:
Health care is a universal right, unless someone knowingly did something that made them unhealthy, and it wasn't something society's decided to encourage.

It's a universal right even when someone knowingly does something that makes them unhealthy.  Nobody's suggesting that hospitals turn away an accident victim who was street racing, and I'm not suggesting that hospitals turn away a drug user who's overdosing.

Quote:
People become addicted because they made a bad choice, often when they were immature or emotionally disturbed.

Shall I add that to the list of reasons why we should NOT legalize all drugs?  Because it doesn't really sound like an argument for why we should legalize all drugs.

To be clear, I'm not talking about decriminalizing them (i.e. not criminally charging someone for reasonable possession or use) but legalizing, similar to alcohol or tobacco.  I know that's not what Singh is proposing, but it's what Alan proposed in post 16 and what I'm replying to.

Quote:
A punitive approach to drug addiction doesn't work.

I agree that the government should not punish someone for using drugs.  I'm just suggesting that if all drugs are normalized then people will be free to choose or not choose to take the risk of using them and I'm OK with that, so long as people treat that choice with the same responsibility as other choices.

If you want to jump out of an airplane, that's legal.  If your parachute fails and the government can get a net under you  in time then I hope they do that.  But if they can't then you'll hit the ground, yes?  That sometimes happens when people jump out of airplanes. 

 

Pondering

Mr. Magoo wrote:

Quote:
People become addicted because they made a bad choice, often when they were immature or emotionally disturbed.

Shall I add that to the list of reasons why we should NOT legalize all drugs?  Because it doesn't really sound like an argument for why we should legalize all drugs.

I misunderstood. I am for decriminalization not legalization of hard drugs. Just as laws against murder don't prevent all murders laws against hard drugs don't prevent all distribution. Doesn't mean they are useless. 

jerrym

We are dealing with two separate but overlapping drug epidemics: prescription and illicit. They overlap because some of those who start out on prescription opioids move on to illicit drugs. Dealing with them requires somewhat different solutions. Unfortunately, federal and provincial governments have in the past largely failed to address these problems, although the recently elected BC NDP government is starting to deal more with this more effectively.

Prescription painkillers and illicit fentanyl are together fuelling a national epidemic of opioid-related overdoses, claiming the lives of more than 2,800 people in Canada last year, new figures show. ...

Street drugs, including illicit fentanyl, accounted for a large proportion of overdose deaths in Western Canada, the region hardest-hit by the crisis, but they are not as big a problem in Atlantic Canada, Robert Strang, Nova Scotia's chief medical officer of health, said during the briefing. In Alberta, fentanyl accounted for 64 per cent of opioid-related deaths in 2016. In Nova Scotia, by contrast, 15 per cent of deaths involved fentanyl, leaving the vast majority linked to prescription painkillers, including pharmaceuticals diverted to the street.

"We are facing two different but overlapping issues: first, overdose deaths from prescription opioids and second, overdose deaths from illicit drugs laced with fentanyl or other synthetic opioids," Dr. Strang said. "There is no single solution to this crisis."

A continuing Globe and Mail investigation has found that federal and provincial governments across the country did not do enough to forestall the rise of an epidemic rooted in the overprescribing of powerful painkillers such as oxycodone, hydromorphone and fentanyl.

The crisis has deepened with the arrival in Canada of illicit fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that street dealers are cutting into illegal drugs, primarily heroin and cocaine. ...

The challenge for policy makers across Canada will be tailoring interventions to address both prescription and illicit opioids. ...

Dr. Strang said more supervised drug-use sites are needed for street drug users so people can consume safely. The federal government has approved 17 new sites across Canada.

Dealing with prescription opioids is more complicated, he said, because that involves reversing two decades of overprescribing. Patients currently on high doses of prescription opioids could be at risk of turning to illicit drugs if their doctors cut them off, he said.

"We have a lot of work to do to change how opioids are prescribed," Dr. Strang said.

https://beta.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/opioid-related-overdose-f...

jerrym

For those who see the drug problem as one of personal failing, the fact that 41 state attorney generals in the United States started subpoening pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors of opioids in September of this year for documents related to the marketing and sale of opioids suggests strongly that what has happened is akin to what happened with the cigarette industry.

A coalition of 41 states' attorneys general have served five major opioid manufacturers with subpoenas seeking information about how these companies marketed and sold prescription opioids. The coalition is also demanding documents and information related to distribution practices from three drug distributors. ...

The investigative subpoenas and document requests were served Monday to pharmaceutical manufacturers Endo International, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd./Cephalon Inc. and Allergan. The group also served a supplemental investigative subpoena to Purdue Pharma.

Documents were also requested of three major pharmaceutical distributors: AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson. According to the Drug Channels Institute, a group that tracks the pharmaceutical industry, these three companies had more than $400 billion in revenue last year and manage about 90% of the country's national drug distribution.

The attorneys general are hoping to learn whether these companies may have marketed or distributed their products illegally. 

"Too often, prescription opioids are the on-ramp to addiction for millions of Americans," Schneiderman said. He pointed out that according to the National Institutes of Health, about 80% of all new heroin users begin with using prescription opioids.

http://www.cnn.com/2017/09/19/health/state-ag-investigation-opioids-subp...

 

jerrym

The incredible growth in drug deaths in the United States is closely tied into the marketing of opioids to doctors and patients and to the revolving door between regulatory agencies and the pharmaceutical industry in the US and Canada. The url below contains a video that shows the close relationship between the industry and its regulators while the accompanying written description gives a brief history of the buildup of the problem.

Unless we change our approach we are on the same exponential growth curve that led to 64,000 drug deaths in the US last year, the only difference being that we are lagging a few years behind them. 

As the painkiller epidemic has spread, drug company profits from opioids have soared. Over the last 10 years, revenues from opioid painkillers have more than doubled; in 2012 the figure was more than $9bn.

And as the market has grown, so has the incentive to get more and more lucrative drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Dr Andrew Kolodny is an addiction specialist who advocates for reform in opioid drug policy. He says: "They launched a marketing campaign and an educational campaign to convince the medical community that we had been underprescribing opioids. To convince us that we had been allowing patients to suffer needlessly because of what they called an overblown fear of addiction." 

In October 2013, the FDA approved a powerful new opioid painkiller called Zohydro over the objections of its own medical advisors and dozens of lawmakers. 

So why did the FDA approve Zohydro in the midst of the worst crisis of prescription drug addiction and overdoses in US history?

http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/faultlines/2014/10/opioid-wars-20141...

 

Drugs Involved in U.S. Overdose Deaths - Among the more than 64,000 drug overdose deaths estimated in 2016, the sharpest increase occurred among deaths related to fentanyl and fentanyl analogs (synthetic opioids) with over 20,000 overdose deaths. Source: CDC WONDER

https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/trends-statistics/overdose-deat...