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The Star Phoenix ran an opinion piece by Jordon Cooper on harm reduction that was adapted from his blog.

Yes, harm reduction.  It has been around for quite a while.  In fact, Health Canada briefly adopted it as a guiding strategy – for about a month while Alan Rock was Health Minister before he was shuffled somewhere else and harm reduction sank like a stone.  I remember my joy at seeing a statement on harm reduction on the front page of the Health Canada website.

Why did Health Canada adopt harm reduction?  Because by any medical standpoint, harm reduction works: it reduces the harm associated with drug use.  That fact has been demonstrated so many times in so many ways that harm reduction is now in front of our supreme court in the form of the Vancouver safe injection site called Insite that is defying the federal government in order to stay open.  Every level of court has sided with Insite based on evidence and accumulated experience: Insite improves the health of its users and the community around it.

Why did Health Canada drop harm reduction like a hot potato?  Because drugs are the new black.  That is, we humans like to grab onto some external characteristic and think it tells us something about the person who exhibits it.  Skin color different?  Must be a lesser person.  Different way of praying (or not praying)?  Must be a lesser person.  Different choice of drug? Must be a lesser person.  In that last case, the only legal Canadian way to help a drug user is by hurting them to the point where they stop using drugs.  At least, that’s the theory and a lot of people make a lot of money putting that theory into practice.

And in practice, do people who are hurt because they use drugs stop using drugs or use less frequently?  Surprisingly no.  (Take that, behaviorists!)  Hurt people tend to consume more drugs than less hurt people.  Yes, the AA/NA mythology is that you have to hit bottom, and perhaps some people do.  In practice, however, when people are treated with respect and given legal access to their drugs, they tend to use them in less harmful ways until they decide to stop.

Oh, I could go on.

Anyway, hat’s off to Jordon Cooper and the Star Phoenix for explaining that free crack pipes are a good thing.

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