From April 4-5, 2017, a multidisciplinary team of scholars convened Canada’s Drug Futures Forum in Ottawa, on traditional Algonquin territory. The goal of the Forum was to bring together academics, policymakers, and community leaders to document priorities for Canadian drug policy in the coming decade. This Forum reflects and builds upon rapid drug policy reform in Canada, and makes a concerted effort to include divergent voices and positions on this issue. This Forum reflects and builds upon rapid drug policy reform in Canada, and makes a concerted effort to include divergent voices and positions on this issue.
The agenda for the Forum was built around four key themes generated by the organizing committee: international management and control, integrating criminal justice and public health responses, decriminalization and regulation, and strategies for health and social equity. With the help of an advisory committee comprising leaders in relevant areas of research, advocacy, policy, and practice, speakers were invited to join panels that stimulated a dialogue on policy options corresponding to each of the four Forum themes. On day 2 of the Forum, participants were asked to join structured and facilitated policy working groups that generated a list of policy recommendations presented back to attendees at the end of the Forum.
This report synthesizes the dialogue generated from the speaker panels and keynote presentations, as well as the recommendations generated by Forum participants. It also documents some of the areas where dissent was voiced or agreement could not be reached. The recommendations that emerged from the Forum have been presented within five domains: national drug policy reform; criminal justice reform; prevention, harm reduction, and treatment; research and knowledge exchange; and international leadership. Recommendations have been framed as opportunities to generate policy or amend existing policies in each of the five domain areas. For each recommendation, an appropriate timeline is identified.
Together with the work of other organizations leading a national conversation on drug policy, this report is intended for use by policymakers in all sectors and within all levels of government and civil society to prioritize action on drug policy in Canada over the coming ten years. In response to an unprecedented opioid crisis facing the country, more people are engaged in the drug policy arena than ever before. There is an imperative to explore and implement new and more effective policies in response to this ongoing crisis, as well as to reduce other adverse consequences of efforts to control the harms of drugs and drug use. This report presents a number of such recommendations to support the optimization of Canada’s policy response in this domain.
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