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What's New Archives ( 1998-99)  (click here to see current (2000-2001) archives)

From the executive summary of Injection Drug Use and HIV/AIDS: Legal and Ethical Issues:
"The criminal approach to drug use has several effects on drug users, health-care professionals, and society at large, and may increase rather than decrease harms from drug use:
Because drugs can only be purchased on the underground market, they are of unknown strength and composition, which may result in overdoses or other harm to the drug user.
Fear of criminal penalties and the high price of drugs cause users to consume drugs in more efficient ways, such as by injection, that contribute to the transmission of HIV and hepatitis.
Because sterile injection equipment is not always available, drug users may have to share needles and equipment, which further contributes to the spread of infections.
Significant resources are spent on law enforcement, money that could instead be spent on prevention and the expansion of treatment facilities for drug users.
The most pronounced effect, however, is to push drug users to the margins of society. This makes it difficult to reach them with educational messages that might improve their health and reduce the risk of further spread of disease; makes users afraid to go to health or social services; may make service providers shy away from providing essential education on safer use of drugs, for fear of being seen to condone use; and fosters anti-drug attitudes toward the user, directing action toward punishment of the "offender" rather than fostering understanding and assistance. Alternatives to the current approach to drug use and drug users in Canada are possible. Alternatives within the current prohibitionist policy that would not require any changes to the current legal framework could include the de facto decriminalization of cannabis possession for personal use, medical prescription of heroin, explicit educational programs, etc. Alternatives to the current prohibitionist approach may require that Canada denounce several international drug-control conventions."
Here are previous reports and analyses on how Canada's drug laws and policies contribute to the spread of disease: