Canadian Medical Association says National Drug Strategy an Important Step Forward



    OTTAWA, Oct. 4 /CNW Telbec/ - 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 française de ce communiqué sera publiée sous peu.




For further information:

For further information: Lucie Boileau, 1-800-663-7336 x1266, (613)
731-8610 x1266


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