Changing the Frame: A New Approach to Drug Policy in Canada

Today, members of the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition (CDPC) released their foundational paper on drug policy reform outlining the Coalition’s vision and plans for creating a new drug policy for Canada.

The paper, Changing the Frame: A New Approach to Drug Policy in Canada, also calls on the Federal Government and the Senate to take a giant step back from Bill C-10, the Safe Streets and Communities Act, and rethink their approach to Canada’s drug policies for the sake of all Canadians.

“The research is in. It is clear that the ‘war on drugs’ approach of prohibition, criminalization and incarceration does not work to reduce harms associated with substance use in Canada. Bill C-10 will only exacerbate them, taking us further down a failing path. It is time for a principled, evidence-driven, pragmatic and humane reform of our drug laws and policies,” said Donald MacPherson, Director of the Coalition.

The CDPC is a new national organization of public health officials, researchers, front-line harm reduction and treatment providers, HIV/AIDS service organizations and people who use drugs who are seeking to engage communities to help chart a new direction.

“We need to acknowledge the limits of the current approach and that the criminal law deflects attention from getting to the heart of why some people use drugs in a way that causes harm to themselves and to their families and communities. The CDPC strives for a more inclusive society,” said Coalition Chair, Lynne Belle-Isle. “We want to engage Canadians in finding new and innovative solutions to a problem that affects us all.”

The Coalition held its first two of their planned series of cross-country community dialogues in Vancouver and Edmonton in the fall of 2011. The group is urging broad base citizen participation to explore ideas for reform of Canada’s laws and policies on currently illegal drugs.

Quebec Conservative Senator Pierre Claude Nolin also indicated his support for the work of the Coalition. “The CDPC’s policy paper and leadership on drug policy reform is an important step forward in engaging Canadians in the process of modernizing our drug policies and legislation,” said Nolin. Senator Nolin strongly opposes the passing of the Safe Streets and Communities Act particularly because it supports continued prohibition of cannabis and further criminalization of young cannabis users.

To read a copy of Changing the Frame: A new approach to drug policy in Canada, please visit our website,, follow our coverage of the Crime Bill C-10 Hearings here: or join the conversation on our Facebook page and follow the latest related news on Twitter @CanDrugPolicy.