The need for a human rights–based approach to drugs policy

Green Party of Canada urges the Canadian government to use a human
rights–based approach in its efforts to reduce the harmful effects of
the use and trafficking of drugs.  Elizabeth May, newly elected Member
of Parliament and Leader of the Green Party of Canada stated, “We urge
Prime Minister Harper to support the recommendations of the Global
Commission on Drug Policy’s concluding report which is being presented
to the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, today in New York.  She added,
“The use of drugs must be treated as a health problem, not as a
criminal offence, if we truly want to address the problem.” 

The Global Commission on Drug Policy aims
to bring to the international level an informed, science-based
discussion about humane and effective ways to reduce the harm caused by
drugs to people and society. There is ample
international evidence that the traditional approach to preventing drug
use has not only been a spectacular failure in itself, but has resulted
in building a massive crime industry and has had catastrophic negative
impacts on numerous young people, especially within poverty-stricken
areas both within Canada and abroad.

2008, according to the Treasury Board, Canada spent $61.3 million
targeting illicit drugs, with a majority of that money going to law
enforcement. Most of that was for the “war” against cannabis
(marijuana). Marijuana prohibition is also costly in other ways,
including criminalizing youth and fostering organized crime. Cannabis
prohibition, which has gone on for decades, has utterly failed and has
not led to reduced drug use in Canada.

The Green Party recommends the following actions:

  • Legalize marijuana by removing marijuana from the drug schedule.
  • Create a regulatory framework for the safe production of marijuana by small, independent growers.
  • Develop a taxation rate for marijuana similar to that of tobacco.
  • Establish the sale of marijuana to adults for medicinal or personal use through licensed distribution outlets.
  • Educate the public about the health threats of marijuana, tobacco and other drug use.
  • Provide
    increased funding to safe injection sites, treatment facilities and
    addict rehabilitation which have now proven to be economically and
    socially in the best interests of the country.

in Europe has proven successful in lowering the rates of drug use. 
Portugal’s decriminalization of narcotics in 2001 has resulted in it now
having the lowest use of narcotic drugs in the European Union.  The
Green Party is recommending that following the UN Conference, the Canadian government
should launch a public consultation on the decriminalization of illicit
drugs, considering the current high costs of the law enforcement

Foster, Green Human Rights critic, suggests that we need to step back
from our current ideaologies and thinking on drugs to take a more
science-based and rational approach.  Foster noted, “We need to make
better use of our crime prevention investments and reduce the harm on
all fronts caused by our present out-dated ‘War on Drugs’.” All
Canadians are urged to support and sign the major international campaign
led by Avaaz, which aims to gather 500,000 signatures for its new petition '”End the war on drugs!