What happened to North America's boldest drug policy experiment?

In 2001, after much campaigning by activists, academics and public health officials, Vancouver's municipal council approved the boldest, most progressive drug policy in North America: A Framework For Action: A Four-Pillar Approach to Vancouver's Drug Problems.

The philosophy was simple but revolutionary: government should lessen the harms associated with drug use, even if those drugs are illegal. Heroin prescription, methadone maintenance and supervised injection are some of the ideas you will find in the document's 36 recommendations.

However, the Four Pillars was passed over 13 years ago. Where do they stand today? This is our season-opening 5-part series, the Four Pillars Revisited,produced in partnership with The Tyeepodcasted on iTunes and syndicated at the University of British Columbia, the University of Victoria and Simon Fraser University.

To read the articles and listen to the files, click on the links below or go to the series page.

[Part 1] The Four Pillars Revisited: Prevention, treatment, harm reduction, and enforcement—Vancouver’s four pillars. It’s the most progressive drug plan of any city in North America. But its authors fear that the pillars are crumbling. More >> 

[Part 2] Prevention: Do you remember DARE? It’s a drug education program, but researchers say that it doesn’t work because it exaggerates the harms of drug use. We profile people who say we need to try something new: tell kids the truth. More >> 

[Part 3] Treatment: When somebody decides that it’s time to kick drugs, who is there to help them? In this explosive expose, we reveal a chronically underfunded drug treatment system that is dominated by unregulated flop houses, questionable pharmacists and dogmatic providers. More >>

[Part 4] Harm Reduction: This summer, an activist named Ann Livingston signed a lease for a bubble tea cafe in the heart of the busiest drug market in suburban Vancouver. Ann has one goal: invite the drug users in and start a political movement. The Bubble Helping Centre in Surrey is to be that movement’s headquarters. But how will the neighbourhood react? More >>

[Part 5] Enforcement: The authors of Vancouver drug policy always wanted to end the ‘War on Drugs’ but they made a compromise. While their fight against prohibition has stalled, Seattle is forging ahead. Will Seattle's compromise get any closer? More >>

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