Statement submitted by the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network to the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, Sixty-second session, Vienna, 14–22 March 2019.
“We urge Member States to promote a public health approach focused on promoting health and social justice, rather than relying predominantly on criminal law responses.
A public health approach is an organized, comprehensive, multi-sectoral effort directed at maintaining and improving the health of populations, incorporating evidence-informed policy and practice, and based on principles of social justice. It addresses relevant determinants of health in order to reduce problematic substance use and associated harms (Appendix A). Overemphasis on trying to prevent the use of drugs per se tends to target and stigmatize people who use drugs, often ignoring the structural and other determinants of (problematic) use, and contributes to punitive, discriminatory approaches that compound harms at both individual and community levels.”