Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy (CSSDP) stands behind the mandate of the campaign Support Don’t Punish.

Support Don’t Punish is a global advocacy campaign calling for better drug policies that prioritize public health and human rights. The campaign aims to promote drug policy reform, and to change laws and policies which impede access to harm reduction interventions.

CSSDP’s mandate coincides with the Support Don’t Punish campaign. We consider problematic drug use in society primarily a health issue rather than a criminal justice issue, and we advocate for appropriate responses to reduce and prevent harm from drug use.

The key messages of the Support Don’t Punish campaign are:

  • The drug control system is broken and in need of reform.
  • People who use drugs should no longer be criminalized.
  • People involved in the drug trade at low levels, especially those involved for reasons of subsistence or coercion, should not face harsh or disproportionate punishments.
  • The death penalty should never be imposed for drug offences.
  • Drug policy in the next decade should focus on health and harm reduction.
  • By 2020, 10% of global resources expended on drug policies should be invested in public health and harm reduction.

CSSDP believes that drug policy should be focused on human rights, harm reduction, and scientific evidence. For us to punish and criminalize humans for using substances, is a violation of human rights. We must look at substance use and adverse substance abuse as a health based issue, with health based consequences, and health based solutions. This is why we stand behind the Support Don’t Punish mandate and believe it is the only way to truly help drug users.

A recent study conducted by The Lancet and John Hopkins University has called for all minor drug offences to be decriminalized as a “first and urgent step” (Csete et al, 2016).

The study indicates by not doing so countries are, “neglecting their legal responsibilities to citizens,” and that our current Drug Policy enforcing prohibition has caused “detrimental effects on the health, well-being, and human rights” of drug users and the public population.

Decriminalization provides opportunities for education, support and safe access through drug checking, while prohibition only ensures barriers, not to use, but to harm reduction.

Studies have demonstrated that drug related offenders have the greatest criminogenic effect when they enter or are prosecuted by the legal or penal system (Spohn et al, 2002).

Statistics Canada has shown that 50% of all criminal offenses are drug related offenses. Of that 50%, 67% are marijuana possession charges, youth (12-24) being the most prosecuted demographic.

When we combine these two notions, it paints a picture for us, a picture that demonstrates the production of criminals, rather than the recovery of human beings who are self medicating.

Using drugs is not a criminal issue, but one that should be addressed from a health perspective.

The main premise for prohibition and punishment is to deter and reduce drug use from all populations, but especially youth.

When we analyze Statistics Canada’s trajectory of drug related offenses from the years 2003-2013, we see a 13% increase in drug-related offenses. From the years 1991-2013, we see a 52% increase in drug related crimes. These statistics suggest to us that drug use is not reducing, rather it is increasing. They also demonstrate that the ideology of prohibition is failing its main premise.

We can provide youth with the education and harm reduction strategies they need to make informed decisions, rather than turning students into criminals.

It is time for us to support humans who choose to consume substances,
not punish them.

June 26th is the “Global Day of Action” – an opportunity to highlight how people who use drugs continue to be abused, stigmatised, tortured, beaten, and even killed in the name of the war on drugs.

On 26th June 2015, 160 cities worldwide came together to call for drug policy reform.
Click here to view photos and videos of the event!
How many cities around the world will come together in 2016? Maybe yours?

Print the campaign poster, take pictures with it & upload your photos below to take part in promoting sensible drug policy with CSSDP!

CSSDP Support Don’t Punish 2016 Images

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Don’t forget to download and share the CSSDP position statement, connect with the SDP facebook page, use the hashtag #supportdontpunish and tweet @SDPcampaign, and stay tuned for CSSDP events in the coming weeks to raise awareness for Support Don’t Punish at a chapter near you!

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