RCMP police cruiser

Decriminalization: Beyond the Buzzword

December 8, 2020

Up to now, drug policies in Canada have failed to protect the health and human rights of people who use drugs. Criminalization puts, more than ever, people who use drugs at risk and contributes to their marginalization and oppression. As the country faces two major crises, establishing a public health and human rights approach to drugs is urgently needed to save lives.

In this webinar, four speakers present different aspects and international models surrounding decriminalization of drug possession for personal use.



  1. Sign On: Decriminalize simple drug possession immediately
  2. Maps: Policing the Pandemic Mapping Project
  3. Maps: Drug Decriminalisation Across the World 29 countries. 49 models of drug decriminalisation. One handy web-tool.
  4. Read: Busted: An Illustrated History of Drug Prohibition in Canada by Susan C. Boyd
  5. Podcast: Crackdown
  6. Website: Decriminalize Nature Canada
  7. Letter: Canadian Government: Decriminalize Simple Drug Possession Immediately and  Drug Decriminalization Follow Up Open Letter to Government
  8. Opinion: Caitlin Shane: Decriminalize drugs across Vancouver and watch the harm recede, October 9, ,2020
  9. Opinion: Canadians Split on Decriminalization of Possession of Narcotics, Prostitution | Ipsos , January 29, 2020
  10. Resource: Guidelines to prosecutors in determining the appropriate approach to the prosecution of the possession of a controlled substance contrary to s. 4(1) of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (the “CDSA”).
  11. Resource: Act Now! Decriminalizing Drugs in Vancouver, 2020
  12. Resource: Impaired Judgment: Assessing the Appropriateness of Drug Treatment Courts as a Response to Drug Use in Canada — Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, June 7, 2012
  13. Resource: Drug Decriminalisation Policies in Practice: A Global Summary
  14. Resource: Dismantling the [US] Federal Drug War: A Comprehensive Drug Decriminalization Framework (The Drug Policy Reform Act)
  15. Resource: Drug decriminalisation in Portugal: setting the record straight
  16. News: How a Canadian Decriminalization Model Can Improve on Portugal, October 6, 2020
  17. News: Exclusive: President Behind Mexico’s War on Drugs Admitted It Was ‘Unwinnable’, September 23, 2020
  18. News: Canada Is So Close to Decriminalizing Drugs: Let’s Make It Happen, September 2, 2020
  19. News: Decriminalization of drugs ‘not a silver bullet’ for overdose crisis, prime minister says, September 2, 2020
  20. News: Canada’s top doctor open to opioid decriminalization as deaths spike, August 24, 2020
  21. News: ‘Societal discussion’ on drugs decriminalisation needed amid surge in opioid deaths, Canada’s health chief says, August 24, 2020
  22.  News: Talks needed on decriminalizing hard drugs to address opioid crisis, Tam says, August 22, 2020
  23. News: Canadian police chiefs call for decriminalization of simple illicit drug possession, July 9, 2020
  24. News: B.C.’s top doctor urges province to decriminalize possession of hard drugs to address overdose crisis, April, 25, 2020
  25. News: Portugal’s Decriminalization of Drug Use, Explained, February 28. 2020
  26. News: Chief medical officer calls for decriminalization of all drugs for personal use, July 9, 2018
  27. Journal Article: Depenalization, diversion and decriminalization: A realist review and programme theory of alternatives to criminalization for simple drug possession, November 28,2019
  28. Journal Article: Drug Decriminalization: A Matter of Justice and Equity, Not Just Health, November 15, 2019
  29. Journal Article: Uses and Abuses of Drug Decriminalization in Portugal, Summer 2015

French Resources

  1. Nouvelle : Arruda «en faveur» de la décriminalisation des drogues au Québec, 31 août 2020
  2. Vidéo : Faut-il décriminaliser les drogues? 6 octobre 2020