Emploi d’été étudiant – Organisation communautaire (français)

Nombre de postes ouverts : 1 poste pour un étudiant francophone
Durée : 30h/semaine sur 8 semaines, débutant le plus tôt possible
Salaire: $11.25/h
Lieu : Canada
Date limite pour postuler : 10 juin.

Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy (CSSDP) est un réseau d’organisations locales constitué de jeunes et d’étudiants préoccupés par les impacts négatifs que les politiques concernant les drogues ont sur les individus et les communautés. Nous considérons l’usage problématique de drogues dans la société principalement comme un problème de santé publique plutôt qu’une question de justice pénale, et nous militons pour la mise en place d’interventions appropriées afin de réduire et de prévenir les risques liés à l’usage de drogue. CSSDP sensibilise et fournit des ressources pour redonner du pouvoir aux jeunes en leur permettant de prendre des décisions éclairées concernant les substances illicites, tout en créant simultanément un espace de discussion respectueux et sans jugements. CSSDP mobilise ses membres à participer dans les processus politiques à tous les niveaux, faisant pression pour que les politiques gouvernementales soient basées sur des données probantes, ce qui permettra au Canada de créer un futur plus sécuritaire et plus juste.

Résumé du poste : La personne employée occupera principalement des fonctions d’organisation communautaire, et sera responsable d’assister les différents chapitres de CSSDP dans la coordination de l’action nationale du regroupement, en utilisant les médias sociaux et blogues pour faire participer et sensibiliser les jeunes. Il sera également question d’aider à développer des stratégies de financement de substitution pour CSSDP. Nous recherchons un candidat très motivé et passionné par la réforme des politiques sur les drogues. Ce poste bénéficie de fonds provenant du programme Emploi d’été Canada 2016.

Tâches :

  • Travailler avec les chapitres de CSSDP et les organismes partenaires à coordonner des actions et évènements dans le cadre de la journée de mobilisation “Support Don’t Punish” le 26 juin prochain
  • Actualiser les plateformes des différents médias sociaux avec des nouvelles pertinentes, en particulier celles qui concernent le Canada
  • Créer des bulletins électroniques pour tenir à jour les membres de CSSDP
  • Produire des contenus innovateurs pour le site internet de CSSDP, et autres publications pertinentes
  • Rester à jour sur les développements dans le domaine des politiques sur les drogues, réagir avec les médias sociaux et du contenu innovateur au fil des évènements
  • Actualiser les ressources de l’organisation et le contenu du site web
  • Développer des stratégies pour obtenir des sources de financement de substitution
  • D’autres tâches pourront être assignées par le ou la superviseur(e)

Critères d’éligibilité:

  • Avoir entre 15 et 30 ans au moment de l’embauche
  • Avoir étudié à temps plein au cours de l’année scolaire 2015-2016
  • Prévoir retourner aux études à temps plein au cours de l’année scolaire 2016-2017
  • Adhérer à la mission, aux valeurs de l’organisation et à l’approche de réduction des méfaits
  • Être citoyen canadien, résident permanent ou désigné comme réfugié en vertu de la Loi sur l’immigration et la protection des réfugiés2; et
  • Être légalement autorisé à travailler au Canada conformément aux dispositions législatives réglementaires en vigueur dans la province ou le territoire visé.
  • Bilinguisme ; un atout
  • Connaissances en gestion ou graphisme informatiques ; un atout

Priorité sera donnée aux candidat(e)s ayant un handicap ou étant issu(e)s de groupes minoritaires.

Si vous souhaitez postuler, veuillez déposer votre candidature (C.V et lettre de motivation) dès que possible à Amélie Roulet (amelie@cssdp.org)

Pour plus de renseignements ou pour toute question, n’hésitez pas à écrire à l’adresse amelie@cssdp.org
Pour en savoir plus sur CSSDP, visitez : https://cssdp.org/
Pour en savoir plus sur le programme Emploi d’été Canada, visitez : http://www.servicecanada.gc.ca/fra/dgpe/ij/pej/programme/pce.shtml

Summer Intern – Community Organizing (English)

Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy
Number of Positions:
2
Duration: 30 hrs/wk for 8 weeks beginning as soon as possible
Wage: $11.25/hr
Location: Canada
Deadline to apply: June 10, 2016

Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy (CSSDP) is a grassroots network of autonomous chapters made up of youth and students who are concerned about the negative impact current drug policies have on individuals and communities. CSSDP considers drug use to be a health issue rather than a criminal justice issue, and advocates for appropriate government and agency responses to reduce and prevent harm associated with drug use. CSSDP provides education and resources to empower young people to make informed decisions about illicit substances, while simultaneously creating a compassionate and non-judgmental space for discussion. CSSDP mobilizes its members to participate in the political process at all levels and to push for government policies grounded in evidence, which will help Canada achieve a safer and more just future.

Position Summary: The Community Organizing Intern will be responsible for assisting CSSDP chapters in coordinating a nationwide action, using social media and blogs to engage youth, and helping develop alternative funding strategies for CSSDP. We are seeking candidates who are passionate about drug policy reform and are highly motivated. These positions are supported by the Canada Summer Jobs program.

Responsibilities:
  • Work with CSSDP chapters and partner organizations to coordinate actions and events for “Support Don’t Punish” day of action on June 26
  • Update social media platforms with relevant developments, particularly those pertaining to Canada
  • Create email newsletters to update CSSDP membership
  • Produce unique content for CSSDP’s website and other relevant publications
  • Stay up-to-date on drug policy developments and respond with social media and unique content as the story develops
  • Update organization resources and website content
  • Develop strategies for alternate sources of funding
  • Other duties as assigned by supervisor
Qualifications:
  • Be between 15 and 30 years of age at the start of employment
  • Was registered as a full-time student during the 2015-2016 academic year
  • Intend to return to school as a full-time student for the 2016-2017 academic year
  • Be aligned with the mission and values of the organization and with a harm reduction approach
  • Be a Canadian citizen, permanent resident, or person to whom refugee protection has been conferred under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act
  • Be legally entitled to work in Canada in accordance with relevant provincial or territorial legislation and regulations
  • Bilingualism is an asset
  • Experience with management or graphic design is an asset

Priority will be given to applicants that have disabilities or who are from minority groups.

If you are interested in applying for the position, please send your CV and cover letter to Amelie Roulet (amelie@cssdp.org) at your earliest convenience. If you have any other questions or comments, don’t hesitate to email amelie@cssdp.org.

To learn more about CSSDP, visit cssdp.org.
To learn more about the Canada Summer Jobs program, visit youth.gc.ca/eng/topics/jobs/csj.shtml

University of Winnipeg chapter

University of Winnipeg

We are the University of Winnipeg chapter of Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy!

We advocate for the decriminalization of drug use and believe that drug use should be an issue of public health, not criminal justice.

If you’re nearby, check out our Facebook group and come to our chapter events!

Send us an email:

14 + 13 =

#PsychedelicsBecause

#PsychedelicsBecause

Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy (CSSDP) is proud to partner with Psymposia for the #PsychedelicsBecause campaign. Psymposia, a group of collaborative social activism projects based on psychedelics, plants, and policy, brought forward this campaign with the aim of ending the stigma of psychedelic use in our society by advocating for individuals to come forward and share their personal experiences with psychedelics. This can be done by tweeting, posting on Facebook and Instagram, or submitting a story or video coupled with the hashtag #PsychedelicsBecause .

Scientific research on psychedelics has been uncovering the potential for bringing about states which can play a positive role in some people’s healing and well-being, such as spiritual experiences, states of insight, or a sense of connectedness. Yet the production, trafficking, and possession of psychedelics remain highly controlled and punishable by law, and psychedelics are marked as having “no medical use”. The current classification of psychedelics is incorrect and immoral, is a significant obstacle to conducting crucial research,and is preventing access to a class of substances with a low risk and addiction profile and with the potential to provoke powerful positive experiences in controlled settings, rather than creating a regulated context within which this use can be properly conducted.

The current stigmatization of psychedelic use is based on uneducated propaganda, which instills fear instead of creating safety, resulting in uneducated recreational use of psychedelics. This notion of fearing psychedelic use inhibits harm reduction practices and maximizes risks by failing to help people acquire an understanding of set, setting, and how to deal with difficult experiences. Associating psychedelic use with “bad trips”, or with the notion that they inducing mental illness, is in itself harmful. Scientific research has demonstrated that psychedelic use can indeed increase mental well-being and can heal relationships with the self and others, while population studies have shown no link between mental health problems and psychedelic use. By opening the doorway and bringing educated understanding of psychedelic substances we can reduce harm, increase transformative experiences, and reverse propaganda that every experience may end up being a “bad trip”.

#PsychedelicsBecause aims to actively:

  • Share stories humanizing the diversity of psychedelic users
  • Increase awareness around the benefits of psychedelics
  • Shift public attitudes and Reverse decades of negative stigma surrounding psychedelic and psychoactive drugs
  • Educate people about current scientific research
  • Promote psychedelic harm reduction by understanding the true risks and how to manage them
  • Help end arrests, incarceration, and criminalization associated with global drug prohibition
  • Unite psychedelic, drug policy reform, and harm reduction movements

Come out of the closet and share your psychedelic experience on social media today with the hashtag #PsychedelicsBecause. Together we can shift the global view on psychedelic use to bring a true evidence and scientific based perception of the therapeutic and transformative properties psychedelics have to offer us.

*Before sharing your experiences publicly, please evaluate whether you wish to present yourself as a drug or psychedelic user, and whether there may be any risk associated with doing so.*


 

Evan Loster

Evan Loster

Board member

The Road to UNGASS

The Road to UNGASS

Michelle Thiessen

This year’s Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) annual conference in Washington, D.C. occurred the weekend before the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on Drugs, so some sessions were in preparation for this high-level international drug policy event. One such session was “Road to UNGASS: What you need to know about the special session and why it matters”. The panelists, among them Scott Bernstein, a lawyer that works for Open Society Foundations, and David Borden, founder of StopTheDrugWar.org, provided an excellent overview to prepare us for the week ahead. Bernstein opened his presentation reminding us all that psychotropic substances have been a part of human culture for millennia, while our attempts to control drugs is a more recent development.

International drug control began with the 1912 International Opium Convention. A number of treaties were signed over the following five decades to control coca leaves, cocaine, and cannabis These treaties were then consolidated into the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, which strictly prohibits the use of narcotics outside of scientific and medical uses. In 1971, the UN introduced the Convention on Psychotropic Substances in order to control amphetamine-type stimulants as well as psychedelics. The Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances was later signed in 1988 and provided additional legal grounds to target increasing rates of international drug trafficking.

Member states of the United Nations are expected to enforce these three major international drug control conventions, while the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) operates as the watchdog for treaty enforcement. When a member state operates outside of the Conventions (i.e. by regulating cannabis or establishing safe injection sites ), the INCB “names and shames” the country at the international level. The effects of these conventions and the bodies established to oversee their enforcement are felt worldwide. However, the degree to which the treaties are enforced varies from country to country.

The UN General Assembly meets every year and 29 special sessions have occurred in the 61 years since the UN was established. However, only two of these meetings dealt with drugs: first in 1990 and then again in 1998. In 1998, the meeting’s slogan was “A Drug Free World, We Can Do It!”. In retrospect, Bernstein suggested that a more accurate slogan might be “A Drug Free World: We Didn’t Even Come Close” due to the absolute failure of international drug control; drug use and availability has increased worldwide despite the prohibitionist attitude adopted by the UN. The slogan for this year’s UNGASS is “A Better Tomorrow for the World’s Youth”, however to our knowledge Canada is the only country to include a youth representative on their delegation — CSSDP’s Co-Chair Gonzo Nieto.

The outcome document adopted at UNGASS was prepared in Vienna earlier this year at the 59th session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs. Unfortunately, the outcome document does not mention of harm reduction, nor does it contain a moratorium on the death penalty for non-violent drug offenses. Despite the UN’s refusal to lead on these issues, some countries are choosing to go forward and operate outside the Conventions. Notably, Canada has announced cannabis legalization in the coming years and continues to expand its supervised injection sites, and some EU countries have implemented heroin maintenance programs.

While we may look to the UN General Assembly for leadership on drug policy issues, the reality is that progressive change will be adopted at the international level once it exists in more and more member states. For this reason, the coming three years will be an important time for civil society groups and others seeking change to work hard to see this change realized on a national level in their respective countries. As Canada is committed to legalizing cannabis, establishing safe injection sites across the country, and espousing harm reduction principles, we are optimistic that ours can be one of the countries that will shape what drug policy will look like in a post-prohibition world.

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Michelle will be graduating this summer with a BA Honours psychology degree from the University of British Columbia. Her thesis focused on the association between classic psychedelic use and violence towards oneself and others. She will begin her Master’s in Clinical Psychology in the fall of 2016 where she plans to continue to examine the motivations and outcomes of the recreational and therapeutic use of cannabis and psychedelics. She co-founded the UBC Okanagan CSSDP chapter in 2015 and is currently the chapter Chair. Michelle’s interest in drug policy reform grew from her concern over medical cannabis patient barriers to access and has spread to other therapeutic substances.

Légalisation du cannabis: la lumière au bout du tunnel?

Légalisation du cannabis: la lumière au bout du tunnel?

Au fil des quatre dernières décénies, nombre de politiciens ont martelé un discours pronant que la prohibition tiendrait les drogues loin de la portée des jeunes. Cependant, comme nous avons pu l’observer, la situation inverse s’est produite et les taux d’usage de substances illicites sont plus hauts que jamais. Les jeunes canadiens dominent actuellement les palmares de consommation du cannabis au sein des régions développées. Il est enthousiasmant de voir que le Canada sera une figure de proue en introduisant une législation légalisant l’usage récréatif de cannabis au printemps 2017. La question est maintenant de savoir comment ce changement sera concrètement effectué. La contribution de la jeunesse sera utile dans la définition de cette législation, et nous pensons que notre voix doit être prise en considération sur le plan politique.

Au Canada, la prohibition a mené à créer des situations bien plus préjudiciables pour les jeunes qu’avant toute forme de régulation. Le sujet doit également être abordé de manière globale, puisque les risques qui en découlent sont multiples et variés. De telles politiques drastiques de tolérance zéro, tentant de réduire l’offre et la demande de substances, n’ont réduit ni l’accès, ni la consommation desdites substances. De plus, les conséquences qui découlent de ces politiques dépendent des caractéristiques individuelles des personnes touchées. On pense notamment à l’âge, au sexe, aux caractéristiques socio-économiques ou encore aux caractéristiques géographiques des individus. La prohibition a détruit des familles en criminalisant les jeunes et ont subséquemment limité les opportunités d’emploi de ces jeunes. Ces derniers ont également du faire face à des barrières dans l’accès au cannabis médical, se faisant parfois accuser d’essayer de contourner le système. La prohibition a également généré  la prolifération d’informations éronnées sur les drogues, ce qui a conséquemment mené à des usages risqués, et freiné voire empêché l’accès aux services sociaux lorsque nécessaires. De plus, la prohibition a forcé les utilisateurs à se procurer du cannabis issu du marché noir et à se tourner vers de nouvelles substances parfois inconnues et dangereuses, comme les cannabinoïdes synthétiques ou “spice”.

Avoir accès à de l’information sur les drogues n’encourage pas l’usage, mais permet de réduire les risques liés à la consommation. La sentence est tombée pour les programmes comme “Just Say No” des années 80, et le programme D.A.R.E des années 90, qui ont été au mieux inefficaces. Par conséquent, CSSDP demande la mise en place d’une nouvelle approche qui met l’emphase sur la santé publique. Il faut appliquer des stratégies coordonnées et multisectorielles (CAMH, 2014). Nous ne nions pas que la seule façon d’éviter tout risque est de ne pas consommer de cannabis, mais nous devons respecter les choix individuels et nous faire à l’idée que la consommation de substances psychoactives existera toujours. Nous aimerions conséquemment voir un véritable engagement envers des politiques de prévention réalistes autour du cannabis, afin de remplacer les discours uniquement basés sur l’abstinence et sur la peur que bon nombre d’entre nous avons reçus à l’école. La Colombie Britannique est la première province à introduire dans son curriculum un programme qui met l’emphase sur la réduction des méfaits ; plutot que d’enseigner aux jeunes à craindre les drogues, le programme vise à enseigner comment fonctionner dans une société où les drogues sont utilisées. Nous militons pour la mise en place d’un programme national similaire au programme Iminds de Colombie Britannique, qui soit basé sur des faits et non sur une idéologie. Les années qui suivront la légalisation seront très importantes afin d’informer le public sur les manières de réduire les méfaits liés à l’usage du cannabis, et en tant que jeunes ayant grandi avec la prohibition, nous pouvons offrir de préciseuses indications.

Nous devons créer de nouvelles normes sociales autour de l’usage légal et responsable du cannabis. Il sera important de s’assurer de ne pas reproduire la même “culture d’utilisation” que celle que nous avons actuellement avec l’alcool, et qui devient de plus en plus hors de contrôle (Fallu, 2016). Nous savons que ce qui fonctionne est d’ouvrir une discussion constructive et productive, qui prend en considération l’expérimentation de substances et qui fourni des informations et outils afin d’aider les jeunes à gérer leur consommation peu importe les substances qu’ils rencontrent.

Il est également important que la prochaine réforme prenne en considération les groupes particulièrement à risque. Par exemple, certaines preuves suggèrent que le cannabis pourrait contribuer au déclenchement précoce de problématiques de schizophrénie chez les individus ayant une prédisposition au développement de cette problématique. La recherche doit être maintenue, encadrée, et prise en considération. La question de la prescription médicale doit également être mise de l’avant. Indépendemment de l’âge légal de consommation du cannabis, les parents devraient être en mesure de prendre la décision concernant l’usage du cannabis médical pour leurs enfants, s’ils considèrent que la substance pourrait leur être utile. Par conséquent, des aspects comme la production, la vente et la publicité autour de la substance devront être strictement réglementés.

Bien que sachant que certaines études ont démontré des effets délétaires du cannabis pour le cerveau chez les jeunes de moins de 25 ans, nous pensons qu’il s’agit d’un âge trop tardif comme critère d’accéssibilité dans la légalisation du cannabis. Si nous prenons en considération que la majorité des personnes qui expérimentent le cannabis ont entre 15 et 25 ans, il sera important de considérer cette donnée démographique dans la légalisation du produit. L’âge légal devrait être le reflet de la capacité individuelle à prendre des décisions informées plutôt que de se baser sur l’évaluation de la relative sécurité de consommation. Néanmoins, la commission Le Dain s’est quant à elle pronnoncée sur l’établissement de l’âge légal à 16 and. Il peut être utile d’explorer les options d’un âge légal plus bas afin d’éviter la continuité d’existence de marchés souterrains et des risques qui y sont associés pour les jeunes n’ayant pas atteint leur majorité.

Nous nous positionnons avec bon nombre d’organisations et de personnes afin de demander la cessation immédiate des arrestations pour possession de cannabis. Comment le gouvernement peut il continuer à regarder de telles lois draconniennes continuer à ruiner les chances de jeunes et limites leurs opportunités, quand le Premier Ministre s’est lui-même positionné pour dire que les lois en vigueur sont plus préjudiciables que la substance elle-même, sans parler de sa propre consommation dans les précédentes années. Au Canada, plus de 22 000 inculpation pour possession de cannabis ont été portées en 2014, une statistique déclarées choquante par le Secrétaire du Parlement Mr Bill Blair. Par ailleurs, les lois en vigueur affectent disproportionnellement les groupes minoritaires et il est fort possible que dans la prochaine année, avant que la nouvelle législation entre en vigueur, un certain nombre de jeunes reçoivent un casier judiciaire pour possession de cannabis. Selon Statistiques Canada, 24% des personnes accusées pour des crimes reliés au cannabis sont des jeunes. Nous ne pouvons laisser à la discretion des tribunaux de décider si oui ou non d’autres jeunes devront vivre avec les impacts d’un casier judiciaire. Nous comprenons que le chemin sera difficile pour le gouvernement en ce qui concerne la légalisation, mais nous l’exhortons de mettre en place un moratoire sur les arrestation pendant le temps de sa réflexion.  Si une modification au Code Criminel ne peut se faire en un claquement de doigts, nous prions instamment le gouverment de demander à la GRC de déprioriser la section de la Loi réglementant les drogues et autres substances qui traite de la possession simple de cannabis.

La légalisation du cannabis serait une façon de concevoir le tunnel, et oui, il existe bien une lumière. Mais ne nous enthousiasmons pas trop vite, parce que le tunnel pourrait être plus long que nous ne l’avions cru au départ. C’est une discussion beaucoup plus globale que nous devons, et allons entamer. La question de la légalisation en est une avant tout de droits humains et de bien-être. Nous allons ouvrir de nombreuses portes menant à des discussions que nous avons refoulées ou simplifiées depuis les dernières décénies.

Nous sommes conscient que la solution exacte en terme de politique ne sera pas mise en place au printemps 2017. Il faudra effectuer beaucoup de suivi, et réaliser des réajustements au fil du temps. Nous pouvons d’ores et déjà prendre exemple sur les apprentissages tirés de la régulation de l’alcool et du tabac. Nous ne devons cependant pas limiter notre processus réflexif à ces deux modèles puisque le cannabis est une substance différente qui est déjà entourrée de sa propre “culture”.

Nous avons entendu beaucoup de discours parler de “protéger la jeunesse” au fil des dernières décénies. Pourtant, nous ne sommes pas convaincus que les gouvernements souhaitent réellement écouter ce que les jeunes ont à dire. Par exemple, lors de la récente Session Spéciale des Nations Unies sur la drogue cette année à New York, nos délégués ont pu faire l’expérience de cette déconnexion. Un certain nombre de représentants de CSSDP se sont vu refuser l’accès à un des panels, bien qu’ils disposent de laissez-passer adéquats, et que la salle dans laquelle se déroule le panel soit relativement vide. Ironiquement, ce panel s’intitulait “ écouter les besoins des enfants et des jeunes est la première étape pour les aider à grandir en santé et en sécurité” (traduction libre), et malgré avoir fait tout ce qui était nécessaire pour y assister, nous nous sommes vu bloquer l’accès à la session. Par ailleurs, notre représentant des élèves au secondaire a rapporté s’être fait vérifier deux à trois fois ses laissez-passer par la sécurité alors qu’il lui paraissait que les adultes autour de lui n’avaient pas à se plier à un tel traitement. Nous devons faire en sorte d’inclure la participation des jeunes de manière significative à l’intérieur de la progression de la légalisation. Nous aimerions voir la voix de la jeunesse représentée et souhaiterions soumettre des recommandations en conséquence. Nous sommes les héritiers du monde de demain, alors laissez-nous au moins le façonner.

Amelie Roulet

Amelie Roulet

Co-Chair

A soon-to-be social worker finishing her degree at Université de Montréal, Amelie volunteers with GRIP Montréal on their drug checking project, and is founding member and chapter leader at ECPESP Université de Montréal, CSSDP’s first francophone chapter. Find out more.

Michelle Theissen

Michelle Theissen

Treasurer

An Honours graduate with a Psychology B.A. from the University of British Columbia, Michelle will begin her Masters in Clinical Psychology in fall 2016, continuing her research examining the motivations and outcomes of recreational and therapeutic use of cannabis and psychedelics. Find out more.

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Cannabis Legalization: Light at the end of the tunnel?

Cannabis Legalization: Light at the end of the tunnel?

For the past four decades, politicians have argued that prohibitionist policies will keep drugs out of the hands of youth. As we’ve seen, the opposite has occurred and rates of drug use are higher than they used to be. Canadian youth lead the developed world in rates of cannabis consumption. It is exciting that Canada will also be leading the world in introducing legislation legalizing the recreational use of cannabis in the spring of 2017. The key question now is how this will be done. Input from youth will be valuable to help shape this legislation and we believe our voice should be considered at the policy level.

In Canada, prohibition has led to creating a much more injurious situation for youth than before any kind of regulation. It needs to be approached comprehensively since related harms are extensive. Such harsh zero tolerance policies, trying to reduce offering and demand of substances didn’t reduce access to the substance nor its usage. And the linked consequences vary depending on one’s individual characteristics such as age, sex, socio-economic status, and geographical position. Prohibition has destroyed families by criminalizing cannabis users and subsequently limiting youth employment and travel opportunities. Youth have also faced barriers to access for medical cannabis, often being accused of trying to beat the system. Prohibition has generated inaccurate drug information, that has itself lead to riskier use, and hampered access to social services. In addition, prohibition has forced users to pursue black market cannabis and switch to new, unknown and hazardous psychotropic substances, such as the synthetic cannabinoid Spice.

Drug information does not encourage consumption but rather it reduces the harm associated with use. The jury is in on drug education programs such as the “Just Say No” campaign of the 80s and the D.A.R.E program of the 90s both of which were at best ineffective. Therefore, CSSDP is asking for a new approach that emphasizes public health. Coordinated and multisectoral strategies are needed (CAMH, 2014). We do not deny that the only way to avoid all harm is to not use cannabis, but we have to respect one’s choices, and face the fact that there will always be substance use. We would therefore like to see a commitment to realistic drug education around cannabis to replace the “abstinence only”, fear based education many of us received in school. British Columbia is the first province to introduce curriculum that emphasizes harm reduction; rather than teaching youth to fear drugs, the program aims at teaching youth how to function in a society where drugs are being used. We are advocating for a National program, similar to the iMinds curriculum in B.C., that is based in evidence not ideology. The years following legalization will be very important in educating the public about ways to decrease the harms associated with cannabis and as youth who have grown up during prohibition we believe we can offer valuable insight.

We need to create new social norms around legal and responsible cannabis usage. It will be important to focus on not having the same “culture of use” that we are currently having with alcohol and that is more and more getting out of control (Jean-Sébastien Fallu 2016). For a productive and meaningful conversation, acknowledging experimentation and providing information and tools to help them manage any substance encounters is what works.

It is also important that the upcoming regulations acknowledge groups that are more at risk. For example, there is some evidence that suggests cannabis may contribute to an earlier onset of psychosis and schizophrenia in individuals predisposed to such illnesses. Research needs to be pursued, framed, and taken into consideration. The question of medical prescription also needs to be brought up. Regardless of legal age, parents should be able to make decisions regarding the use of medical cannabis for their children if they consider the substance to be helpful for them. Therefore, aspects like production, sale and advertisement, of the substance will have to be strictly regulated.

Despite knowing that some studies have shown cannabis to be harmful to the brains of youth under the age of 25, we feel that is too late. If you take into consideration that a majority of cannabis users begin use between the ages of 15 and 25 it will be important to capture that demographic in legalization. The legal age should reflect the ability of an individual to make an informed decision rather than evaluating the relative safety of use. The Le Dain Commission recommended the legal age for cannabis consumption be 16. Setting a lower age limit may help prevent the continuation of an underground cannabis market and reduce the associated harms on youth.

We stand with a number of organizations and individuals in calling for an immediate end to arrests for cannabis possession. How can the government watch as the draconian laws continue to ruin young people’s chances and limit their opportunities all while the Prime Minister himself states that the laws are more harmful than the substance itself, not to mention his own use of cannabis in recent years. In Canada, over 22,000 cannabis possession charges were laid in 2014, a statistic the Parliamentary Secretary Bill Blair referred to as ‘shocking’. Furthermore, the current laws disproportionately affect minority groups and it is likely that in the next year, before the new legislation is introduced, a number of youth will receive criminal records for cannabis possession. According to Statistics Canada, 24% of those accused of cannabis crimes are youth. We can not leave it up to the discretion of the courts to decide whether or not another youth will live with the barriers a criminal record brings. We understand the government has a difficult road ahead in terms of legalization but we urge them to place a moratorium on arrests while they navigate legalization. If changing the criminal code can not be done in a timely manner, we urge the government to tell the RCMP to deprioritize the section of Controlled Drugs and Substances Act that deals with the personal possession of cannabis.

We are not naive to the difficulties that arise from being one of the first countries to legalize cannabis. This move is going to generate both international praise and condemnation. However legalization is an issue of human rights and well-being. We are aware that the right solution in terms of policy will not be up for spring 2017. It will need a close follow-up, and take readjustments over the time. We can already take examples on what we have learned from tobacco and alcohol. But we must not limit our réflexive process to these two substances since cannabis is a different substance and already has it’s own culture.

We have heard a lot about “protecting youth” in drug policy discourse over the past few decades. Yet we are less convinced that governments actually want to listen to what young people have to say. For example, at UNGASS this year in New York City, our delegates experienced this disconnect. A number of CSSDP representatives were denied access to a panel even though they had the appropriate grounds passes and the room where the panel was occurring was relatively empty. Ironically this panel was titled “Listening to the needs of children and youth is the first step to help them grow healthy and safe” and regardless of doing all that was necessary to attend the session, we were instead blocked from it. Furthermore, our high school representative reported that security scrutinized his UN grounds pass, while he felt the adults around him were not subjected to the same treatment. We need to ensure that we include youth input in a meaningful way as legalization unfolds. We would like to see a youth voice be represented and are looking to submit recommendations accordingly. We are inheriting the world of tomorrow,  let us help shape it.

Michelle Theissen

Michelle Theissen

Treasurer

An Honours graduate with a Psychology B.A. from the University of British Columbia, Michelle will begin her Masters in Clinical Psychology in fall 2016, continuing her research examining the motivations and outcomes of recreational and therapeutic use of cannabis and psychedelics. Find out more.

Amelie Roulet

Amelie Roulet

Co-Chair

A soon-to-be social worker finishing her degree at Université de Montréal, Amelie volunteers with GRIP Montréal on their drug checking project, and is founding member and chapter leader at ECPESP Université de Montréal, CSSDP’s first francophone chapter. Find out more.

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UNGASS: An Overview

UNGASS: An Overview

Daniel Greig

It was a week of high hopes at the UN with Canadian Minister of Health Jane Philpott’s announcement of the country’s plan to legalize cannabis in Spring 2017. The Minister’s statement also focused on safe injection sites, naloxone distribution, support for people who use drugs, and harm reduction practices. In speaking with the Minister afterwards, she emphasized the need to close research gaps and noted that the government will soon be providing additional funding research for cannabis through the Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR). In her address to the UN General Assembly, Minister Philpott related the story of mumsDU founder Donna May, whose daughter died of an opiate overdose at the hands of an attending doctor who was neither able to identify an opiate overdose nor trained in administering naloxone, which can block such overdoses. Following her daughter’s passing, Donna May has spent the last 44 months pushing to reform the policies that contributed to her daughter’s preventable death.

The UN General Assembly Special Session on the World Drug Problem was structured into two sections each day. At the general assembly, country delegates presented formal statements on their nation’s position. In addition, side events took place elsewhere in the UN building. At these panels, governments and civil society groups presented and held discussions on drug policy. With Canada’s official statement, it appears our country’s reputation on the world stage is taking a noticeable turn for the better as attendees from all over the world spoke highly of the progressive position Minster Philpott presented. Elsewhere in New York, Americans jokingly pleaded for Canada to stop making them look bad and offered the solution (to at least some issues) of having Justin Trudeau box Donald Trump.

Overall, there was a much different perspective presented at this year’s UNGASS on drug policy compared to the previous meeting in 1998. Many countries who had signed a consensus agreement for a world free from the “evil” of drugs were now advocating for a world where we can live well with drugs, with a focus on human rights. South American nations, having been especially devastated by the drug war, were among the most progressive. The president of Mexico addressed the assembly stressing the need to modify punitive approaches. The delegate from Colombia pointed out the benign nature of the coca leaf in its natural form and another representative from Colombia emphasized the importance of not focusing on the negatives of drug use alone, but on the potential positives of currently illegal substances as well.

In the global arena however, Southeast Asian countries seem to be far behind. Indonesia continued to advocate for the death penalty for non-violent drug crimes. Sergius Wat, the delegate from Singapore, mentioned that the country would be open to changing its drug policies if someone could show them a more effective policy in treating addiction, yet he followed this statement by denying that anyone could present such evidence, and thus fell back on justifying incarceration for users as well as crop eradication strategies. Wat emphasized tough on crime laws (which are somehow supposed to help addiction) and zero tolerance policies. Thailand’s prisons are currently 80% full with drug users, and examples have emerged from the country of users who are flogged, locked in prison for 20+ years for as little as 1.5 pills of methamphetamine and labeled as drug addicts for the rest of their lives. However, there is a unique issue in Southeast Asia that was highlighted by an audience member of the Amphetamine-Type Stimulants panel discussion. During the question period, the attendee from Vietnam pointed out that the states in that area do not have the resources or the education to determine the difference between problematic and unproblematic drug use. This leads to all drug users being labeled as addicts, which is troubling when one considers that 80-90% of people who use drugs do not have a dependence issue. For example, though amphetamines are often considered to have a high addictive potential, the majority of methamphetamine users only use the substance less than once per month. Another common misconception with regards to methamphetamine is that it renders users violent. However, Dr. Carl Hart, a speaker on the panel, mentioned that he had administered methamphetamine in a laboratory setting many times and had never seen an instance of violence. He pointed out that such issues are not caused by the drug itself, but rather by a lack of sleep, malnutrition and a lack of meaningful and social engagement that tend to be associated with frequent stimulant use. He noted that those looking to reduce the harms associated with drug use would do well to enact social policies that positively affect the health, wellness, and social contact of drug users.

However, after decades of a war on psychoactive plants, the poor, and those coping with mental health difficulties, a reassuring perspective is being brought to the world stage by member states from Europe, South America and Canada. Many of these countries promoted harm reduction strategies and a public health approach to drug use. That being said, attitudes on drug control remain highly polarized across the world. As of last year, at least 33 states have laws allowing for, or even requiring, the death penalty for drug-related crimes. The war on drugs is nothing short of a series of violations on personal and religious freedoms that denies the long history that human beings have with plant teachers and other mind altering compounds. The death penalty can only be considered an atrocious experiment in puritanism and remains a primary obstacle to global assurance of human rights. Though UNGASS 2016 shows a step in the right direction for many – especially Canada –  there is much room for improvement.


 

Daniel Greig

Board member

Daniel Greig is a student of Cognitive Science at the University of Toronto. His interest in drug policy is focused on the research of psychedelic compounds and their implications for mental health treatments, consciousness and the development of wisdom. Dan is an engaged member of the U of T community, organizing events around campus for the Cognitive Science Students Union, the Buddhism and Psychology Union as well as CSSDP. He is also a musician, with an focus in improvisation and progressive metal. You can find his academic work here.

Memorial University chapter

Memorial University

We are the Memorial University chapter of Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy!

We advocate for the decriminalization of drug use and believe that drug use should be an issue of public health, not criminal justice.

If you’re nearby, check out our Facebook group and come to our chapter events!

Send us an email:

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ECPESP Université de Montréal

ECPESP Université de Montréal

Nous sommes le premier chapitre francophone de CSSDP. 

Si vous avez envie de contribuer à promouvoir la réduction des méfaits, à changer les politiques sur les substances psychoactives, ainsi qu’à militer pour des approches de prévention et d’éducation basées sur des données probantes, rejoignez-nous ! 

Consultez notre page Facebook pour être tenu au courant de nos différents évènements, et n’hésitez pas à nous écrire si vous souhaitez vous aussi lancer un nouveau chapitre francophone, nous serons là pour vous appuyer!

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On legalization: Tara Marie Watson from CAMH

On legalization: Tara Marie Watson from CAMH

Tara Marie Watson holds a PhD in Criminology from the University of Toronto and is currently working as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), specializing in drug use and harm reduction studies. Tara Marie also served as the graduate student representative for the Collaborative Program in Addiction Studies (CoPAS) for several years. Her dissertation examined substance abuse policy and related practices within Canadian federal prisons. Tara Marie has both longstanding interests in evidence-based drug policy and correctional populations, and research experience related to public health programming for people who use drugs.

How do you think Canada should implement Cannabis legislation?

The Liberal win over the Conservatives in the last federal election came at an important time for Canada to redefine its approach to drugs. The Liberal government has voiced strong support for cannabis legalization and a move towards a regulatory scheme that would mean people being able to have access for recreational use, as we have medical marijuana access in Canada. There are different models for regulating drug supply and access. For example, under medical marijuana programs you have a prescription model in place. Another way in which you can regulate drugs is through pharmacy sales. In a nutshell, there are various ways in regulating cannabis for recreational use. I don’t know what model will necessarily be implemented because that will be a long process, I think that process should be informed by evidence as well as looking at what other jurisdictions are doing, jurisdictions like the state of Colorado, that have legalized recreational cannabis sales, a country like Uruguay has done the same. There needs to be a lot of consultation with pharmacists, and the people who use, to formulate a path that’s going to be feasible.

Do you think the average Canadian citizen should be allowed to grow their own cannabis?

I think that’s very likely, for example, with medical marijuana there are regulations in place for people being allowed to grow their own at home. It varies, in Colorado there are restrictions on how many plants people can grow at home for their own cannabis consumption. There is variation how that particular issue could be addressed. I think it’s entirely possible in the future in allowing people to grow cannabis at home.

What are your thoughts on youth having access to medical marijuana?

Many people have this fear, including our former Health Minister, who has been vocal in her opposition of legalization. Many people have a fear that with the legalization of cannabis and recreational use is going to mean a sudden surge of young people accessing cannabis. Some of those fears are a bit unfounded. The war of drugs regime hasn’t stopped young people from having access to cannabis. In fact, there is empirical literature that has found young people readily having access to marijuana – the Monitoring the Future study conducted in the United States has found that cannabis is something that’s fairly accessible if you are interested in getting it or know where to go. In terms of keeping it out of reach of children and youth, I think there are important reasons why we would have regulations to try and prevent young people from being able to access cannabis readily. There is literature to suggest that cannabis use might have certain negative impacts on the developing brain and some linkages to certain mental health conditions. So I think there’s a real reason why we might want to implement policies that would restrict the sale to underage people and that’s something in place in certain countries.

How would you suggest a change in public perception about cannabis use?

Mass awareness campaigns can be one tool in terms of educating the public on cannabis use on what a regulatory scheme might look like. There needs to be a lot of discussions that are evidence-based and very realistic and honest about what we know about cannabis use and what legalization might look like. I think that’s very important, in comparison to a campaign launched by Health Canada, they put out some ads that were very anti-drugs, and scary in their tone. I think going that route was more of a fear-mongering campaign. Grassroots organizations, NGOs, a wide variety of stakeholders need to get involved in credible, evidence-based, honest education – awareness campaigns about cannabis.

How could harm reduction approaches be used in cannabis consumption?

Harm Reduction is an approach that has been around for several decades, it has a number of important principles including programming for people who use substances are safe, evidence-based, that they meet the dignity of people who use drugs. That programs and policies in place are along a continuum, to try and address people who use substance use and people’s level of readiness in terms of people using drugs in a safer way. A first step is the full decriminalization and then regulation of cannabis for recreational use. One of the greatest harms of substance use under punitive drug laws is punishing people for possession and purchase of drugs, that is a process that needs to happen immediately. Other harm reduction based approaches that can be implemented can include having honest education campaigns developed specifically, on populations that use cannabis. I think it would be valuable to have some tailored to young people, I think that there needs to be that incorporated to programs that try to help people use cannabis safely, there needs to be acknowledgment of cannabis use with alcohol use and with other drugs. Cannabis use on it’s own is often not linked to too many harmful effects but often times people do use cannabis in conjunction with substances and harm from that needs to be clearly laid out. I think there’s definitely room to talk about harm reduction in the context of driving, under the influence of cannabis. Certainly, opponents raise the issue of traffic safety and concerns regarding a sudden increase in people impaired by cannabis driving on roads. I think there needs to be a lot more research done and again, more awareness campaigns so that people know that you can smoke cannabis products in safer ways.

What are your hopes regarding cannabis legalization in Canada’s future?

My hope is that sooner rather than later we will see a whole cannabis regulation scheme in place for cannabis that people will no longer be prosecuted for possession and purchase for personal cannabis use. I hope that the liberal government upholds its promises to have a massive consultation with stakeholders to make this happen. Also, cannabis regulation will spur eventually, dialogue about having other drugs be decriminalized in Canada. In the broader scheme of things, we really need to form a Public Health model in terms of how we address substance use in Canada. That means taking away the issue of law enforcement and the criminal justice system and putting it in the hands of health & social services that have a much deeper understanding of substance use and the reasons why people use a variety of drugs and how they might be able to use in a way that’s safer. There also needs to be a stronger recognition in Canada that drug use exists on a continuum from cannabis to more serious use that is often preceded by experiences or histories of trauma, poverty. If there’s more explicit recognition of more of those broader social issues and how they relate more Canadians will be open to legalization, be open to harm reduction and I think that’s really the way forward.

Martha Segovia

Martha Segovia

Volunteer

Martha is a Social Service Worker graduate, Bachelor of Social Work undergraduate from York University. As a volunteer in the Outreach Committee and volunteer at Egale Youth OUTreach in Toronto, she is committed and passionate about drug policy through action and engagement towards a progressive culture.

University of Western Ontario chapter

Western University

We are the Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy chapter at Western University.

We advocate for the decriminalization of drug use and believe that drug use should be an issue of public health, not criminal justice.

If you’re in the London area, check out our Facebook group and come to our events!

Send us an email:

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