US President Nixon launched the "war on drugs" in the 1970s. Today, incarceration, social marginalisation and drug-related deaths have led North America to rethink this strategy. However, although positive developments are happening locally in the fields of harm reduction, alternatives to incarceration, new drug law enforcement approaches and cannabis regulation, the US and Canadian federal governments remain resistant to drug policy reform.
Officials in Seattle approved the nation’s first “safe-injection” sites for users of heroin and other illegal drugs, calling the move a drastic but necessary response to an epidemic of addiction that is claiming tens of thousands of lives each year.
Based on Trump’s cabinet and law-and-order rhetoric, the incoming American administration seems poised to look backwards to a time when violence reigned and countless Latin American lives were thrown away for the pipe dream of a “drug-free world”.
Ontario’s health minister says “more can be done” to tackle the opioid crisis and has committed to funding three supervised safe injection sites in Toronto at an estimated annual cost of about $1.6 million and an initial cost of $400,000.
The USA National Academy of Science provides a comprehensive review of scientific evidence related to the health effects of cannabis and puts forward a research agenda that outlines gaps in current knowledge and opportunities for insight.
Cannabis production should be regulated by the federal government, with licensing and production controls used to ensure a competitive system that includes small producers, the panel said, suggesting the door was open for new producers to get into the burgeoning sector.