Canadian Medical Association

Canadian Medical Association

October 04, 2007 16:59 ET

Canadian Medical Association Says National Drug Strategy an Important Step Forward

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Oct. 4, 2007) - The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) considers the balanced approach taken by the federal government's new national drug strategy to be a positive step forward.

"The Canadian Medical Association welcomes the increased attention being paid by the federal government to the health-related aspects of illicit drug use and commends the increased resources allocated to treatment and prevention," said CMA President, Dr. Brian Day. "While the strategy is short on support for harm reduction strategies, it goes beyond the tradition focus of criminal sanctions and recognizes the importance of treating drug addiction as a health problem rather than just a criminal problem."

Canada physicians see firsthand the terrible health impacts of drug use in their patients. They also are frustrated at the lack of resources devoted to treatment and detoxification centers and preventive public health programs. In the past, the CMA has also called on the government to elaborate a public awareness campaign aimed at young people as a mean to discourage the use of drugs.

"This campaign has to be more in-depth than what we have seen in the past." added Dr. Day. "'Just say no' is not enough anymore. Young people today are much more media savvy and the expectations for a social behavioral change is a huge order but a necessary one."

The criminal justice approach has not been an effective tool in discouraging usage of drugs. On the contrary, while the number of people arrested for possession of marijuana have increased under the actual government, statistics show that so too has the number of users.

"The CMA welcomes the government's intention to crack down on dealers and sellers while being more compassionate with those addicted to illegal drugs," said Dr. Day.

However, the CMA is disappointed that the government chose not to include harm reduction programs in its strategy. By his own admission, the prime minister is skeptical of the merits of initiatives such as supervised injection sites, but there is growing research showing that harm reduction efforts can have a positive effect on the poor health outcomes associated with drug use.

"This government may not yet be convinced about the possibilities of harm reduction strategies, but I hope that it will keep an open mind and respond by adding harm reduction efforts to the national strategy as more evidence of their efficacy becomes available.," concluded Dr. Day.

La version francaise de ce communique sera publiee sous peu.

Contact Information

  • Canadian Medical Association
    Lucie Boileau
    1-800-663-7336 x 1266 or 613-731-8610 x 1266