Drug prohibition was meant to reduce drug use and the perceived associated harms. History has proven that it has failed on both accounts, and instead, fuelled an epidemic of drug poisonings/overdose deaths and created a dangerous illegal market supporting high-level, transnational organized crime. Prohibition was conceived of and implemented in the early 1900s and has changed little since. As revealed in Busted: An Illustrated History of Drug Prohibition in Canada, by Dr. Susan Boyd, prohibition was born out of racism—anti-Asian and anti-Indigenous sentiment that positioned European Christian culture, mindset, and philosophies as superior.

But now, a critical mass is growing in response to over a century of policy failure that has killed over 23,000 Canadians since 2016. Politicians, doctors, and leading public health officials are calling on the federal government to decriminalize drugs to save lives and protect communities after recognizing that prohibition has produced more harm than good. Evidence clearly demonstrates that it is time for a bold policy shift away from criminalization towards a health and human rights approach.


Leading human rights and public health organizations release national drug decriminalization platform for Canada

By Canadian Drug Policy Coalition | December 9, 2021

This comprehensive path to decriminalization has been endorsed by more than 100 organizations across Canada.

Decriminalization Done Right: A Rights-Based Path for Drug Policy

By Canadian Drug Policy Coalition | December 8, 2021

Canada’s first civil society platform for the decriminalization of drugs developed by 20 national organizations and people at the centre of the drug poisoning/overdose crisis.

Decriminalization Done Right: A Human Rights and Public Health Vision for Drug Policy Reform

By Canadian Drug Policy Coalition | May 11, 2021

The current “Vancouver Model” sets a dangerous precedent—a system ‘by’ police is ‘for’ police, not the people it was intended to help. We need #DecrimDoneRight where policies are co-developed by people who use drugs. 

Publications & Reports

Interior of Parliament in Ottawa

Recommendations on Alternatives to Criminal Penalties for Simple Possession of Controlled Substances

The Expert Task Force found that criminalization of simple possession causes harms to Canadians and needs to end.

Outcomes of our Current Drug Policies