The major problem with our drug policy is that we are still under the impression that tougher sentences for users will have any real effect on the drug traffic and overdoses. Vancouver’s Four Pillars Drug Strategy is a coordinated, comprehensive approach that balances public order and public health. This “Four Pillars” approach deals with: harm reduction, prevention, treatment and enforcement.

The principle of harm reduction recognizes that abstinence is not always an option for every person who is addicted to drugs. The idea is to minimize the dangers of drug use by the use of needle exchanges and supervised injecting facilities. This policy has prevented the deaths of hundreds of people in Vancouver and has even reduced the number of addicts in that city. It does not “condone” drug use but it does recognize the fact that many people are addicted to drugs because of circumstances that were really not under their control, e.g. physical injuries that led to dependence upon pain medication. The bottom line is that whatever the cause of a person’s addiction is a prevention and enforcement problem but the treatment of their condition is not throwing them into prison.

We need to separate the users from the suppliers in enforcement.

David S. Cressy Sr.