Canada Figured Out How to Win the Drug War

On May 12, Lucie Charlebois, Québec’s minister of public health, proudly announced that two centers where people would be able to inject illicit drugs under a nurse’s supervision would soon open in Montreal. “I’m containing my emotions,” Charlebois exclaimed.

Earlier that same day, U.S. Attorney Jeff Sessions had directed prosecutors to seek the harshest possible charges in federal drug cases, presenting the conventional drug war wisdom as though its veracity required little explanation. “We know that drugs and crime go hand in hand,” said Sessions, accepting an award from a New York City police union. “They just do. The facts prove that so.”

In 2015, Liberal Party Leader Justin Trudeau defeated Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper in a campaign where drug politics were front and center. During his nearly 10 years in office, Harper staunchly opposed harm reduction measures, including failed legal battles to shutdown Insite, Vancouver’s supervised injection center, and Providence Crosstown Clinic, which provides prescription heroin. Now, Trudeau’s government is shifting away from criminalization, moving to open supervised injection sites nationwide, to expand access to prescription heroin, and to legalize recreational marijuana.

Daniel Denvir reports

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