The following is a message from KFL&A Public Health regarding the decriminalization of people who use drugs.
The Kingston, Frontenac, and Lennox & Addington (KFL&A) Community Drug Strategy Advisory Committee has issued a statement in support of decriminalization of people who use drugs. The intentions of this statement are to promote community conversations on this topic, destigmatize drug use, advocate for policy change, and demonstrate system-wide support for people who use drugs.
Decriminalization of people who use drugs is an evidence-informed approach that does not increase drug use or drug-related harms. It reduces the stigmatization of people who use drugs, promotes access to harm reduction and health care services, and reduces overdose deaths.
“This approach will begin to address the unrelenting overdose crisis in our community and will position drug use as a health issue, rather than an issue of morality, will power, or criminal justice,” said Susan Stewart, Chair of KFL&A Community Drug Strategy Advisory Committee. “The Advisory Committee is committed to advancing community-wide approaches that promote health, equity, and dignity for people who use drugs.”
The KFL&A Community Drug Strategy Advisory Committee acknowledges that the decriminalization of people who use drugs is only one part of a broader strategy to address the harms of drug use. As such, the Advisory Committee is developing a comprehensive strategy that includes the pillars of prevention, harm-reduction, treatment, and enforcement. This strategy requires the concurrent investment in new and existing programs and services to prevent, treat, and reduce the harms of drug use.
The KFL&A Community Drug Strategy Advisory Committee is a cross-sector planning table, including service providers from health, social services, and enforcement as well as individuals with lived experience of drug use. The members of this Advisory Committee are dedicated to working together to implement a community drug strategy that reduces the harms associated with drug use and uses upstream approaches to address root causes of drug use.