The war on drugs is lost and prohibition has been a
complete failure. These are the conclusions of
Sensible Solutions to the Urban Drug Problem
Originally based on papers presented to two Fraser Institute
conferences, the authors suggest a wide range of options to this
failed war, from harm reduction and medicalization, through to
the decriminalization or legalization of drugs from marijuana to
heroin. Harm reduction, for example, changes the focus from
policing to mitigating the negative effects of drug use through
policies and programs that focus on addiction treatment.
Canadian governments-federal and provincial-have seldom given
serious thought to drug policy, preferring instead to follow
whatever variation on failure is being proposed during the latest
The authors of the papers argue that the evidence-societal,
scientific, and anecdotal-shows that most of the serious problems
we associate with illegal drug use are caused directly or
indirectly, not by drug use itself, but by drug prohibition. It
is only by separating drug use from drug prohibition that one is
able to assess whether or not the harmful side effects of
prohibition overwhelm the benefits of supposed lower drug
consumption and the resulting lower social costs.
Drug prohibition reflects our failure to learn from history; drug
prohibition causes crime; drug prohibition corrupts police
officers; drug prohibition violates civil liberties and
individual rights; drug prohibition throws good money after bad;
and drug prohibition weakens-at times, even destroys-families,
neighbourhoods, and communities.
Papers included in this publication (available only on the web)
Swiss Drug Policy: Harm Reduction and Heroin-Supported
Martin Buechi is head of the Section for Policy and Research, and
the deputy vice-director of the Swiss Federal Office of Public
Health. Ueli Minder is the drug policy coordinator in the Swiss
Federal Office of Public Health.
Drugs, Violence and Public Health: What Does the
Harm-Reduction Approach Have to Offer?
Patricia Erickson is Senior Scientist at the Centre for Addiction
and Mental Health.
The Empires Strike Back
The late Gil Puder was a decorated 16-year veteran of the
Vancouver Police Department and instructor at the British
Columbia Police Academy.
Psychoactive Substances in Canada: Levels of Harm and Means of
Robin Room is Professor and Director of the Centre for Social
Research on Alcohol and Drugs at Stockholm University, Sweden.
Canadian Attitudes towards Decriminalizing The Use of
Daniel Savas is Senior Vice-President of Ipsos Reid, Canada's
leading market research and public opinion company.
Medicalization: A "Third Way" to Drug Policy
Jeffrey Singer is a general surgeon in private practice in
Phoenix Arizona, where he also served as Medical Spokesperson for
Arizonans for Drug Policy Reform.
The Economic Cost of the War on Drugs
Richard Stevenson directs the Health Economics Unit and lectures
in the Department of Economics at Liverpool