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Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy-Interview Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Des, Canada Nov 21, 2012
Health , Human Rights   Interviews
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Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy-Interview Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy - by Desmond Washington

The Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy (CSSDP) is a national, grassroots, youth and student network. We provide the necessary education and resources to empower chapters formed by youth and students to work on substance use issues facing their community. Chapters do everything from peer and public education, to drug policy reform and harm reduction projects. In all these areas we support an approach scientifically studied and proven to be effective in decreasing the negative impact of drugs and drug policies on individuals, families and communities.
Missions & Values
Harm Reduction Policies
*Drugs are a Health Issue.
All policies and programs aimed at reducing the harms associated with drug use in society should address the issue as a public health concern, not as a criminal justice issue. This has been proven to be more effective by studies world-wide.
The Centre for Excellence in Youth Engagement has found that drug education and prevention programs that meet young people where they are at, even if they are using drugs and alcohol, are the most effective.
Education programs like DARE, run by the Police, may be effective in reminding youth that drugs are illegal. However, they have been highly ineffective in seriously reaching young people about drugs in their personal lives.
*Honest, open dialogue
Drug education is an empowerment. Young people should be provided with all the information available and encouraged to make their own decisions about their physical and mental health.
All education should acknowledge and respect young people’s personal experience, a discussion that should be approached only in a space of compassion and non-judgment.
"By mobilizing and empowering young people to participate in their communities, CSSDP pushes for sensible drug policy that provides the appropriate health care responses to reduce and prevent harm from drug use."
Interview with Krestougher Walker, a member of the CSSDP from Durham College recently

1. What do you feel are the limitations of fear and abstinence based campaigns such as "not4me" and "Just say no"?

Well, I feel that those programs are ineffective in stopping people from doing drugs, since most people are brought in to the culture by friends and family, which have a larger sway on people than what they see on television. Furthermore the claims they make are unrealistic and often only push youth away as they are able to distinguish these exaggerated claims from their reality.

2. What is your opinion on Government funding for substance abuse, mandatory minimum sentences, and Bill C-10?

Well, I’m not quite sure what you mean by government funding for substance abuse. However in regards to the mandatory minimum sentencing, my opinion is that they do not reduce crime with respect to drug offences, the majority of people arrested for drugs are low level street dealers and relatively young. By having them serve mandatory minimums, it pushes these people towards a further life of crime and recidivism. Not to mention it takes away the power of the judiciary to take in personal circumstances or any aggravating or mitigating factors in a case for that matter, which is, in my opinion one of the foundations of our judicial system. In fact in Ontario a couple of these mandatory minimum measures were declared unconstitutional for crossing the threshold for cruel and unusual punishment. Granted these have all been for weapons offences, but most would agree that weapons offences are more serious than drug offences, so I’m just applying that standard.

3. What are the most crucial changes that need to be made in Canada's Drug Laws or Drug Policies?

Personally, I feel that the crucial change that needs to happen is at least the shift to view drug abuse as a public health issue, as opposed to a criminal justice issue. Those who are addicted to drugs are sick, not criminals. Furthermore, I feel at least decriminalization or legalization of all now illicit drugs would not only lessen the number of deaths from purity problems and the spread of disease such as hepatitis C and HIV, but it would be a massive blow to organized crime whilst being a cash cow for private and public sectors.

4. What are some of your groups major triumphs?

The major triumphs in the short life of our chapter I would have to say is donating a few thousand dollars to the John Howard Society in Oshawa and hosting our own drug policy conference at UOIT/DC.

5. What is your reaction to recent reports of corruption in Durham Region and Toronto Police Narcotics Division?http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/story/2012/01/13/police-corruption-trial.html

Personally I am not surprised in the least that there is corruption in the police force. The offices that provide supposed oversight to the police have, by means of the occupational subculture that is the blue shield, been rendered toothless, with a very small number of charges being laid against police for their misconduct, and even when they take the life of a citizen, the force is almost always seen to be justified and the worst the officer gets is unpaid suspension. It disturbs me, it really does.

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