Position Papers and Speeches

Harm Reduction Drug Policy Encourages Harm Production

From the Institute on Global Drug Policy

The World Conference on Drug Related Issues sponsored by the Hassela Nordic Network recently convened in Visby Sweden on May 3-6. The conference brought together top drug policy experts representing twenty-five nations to assess the current challenges facing drug policy.

Softening of drug policy which has been termed “Harm Reduction” was identified as a major failure of international drug policy. Examples of failed policies which were discussed include decriminalization of some drugs, needle exchanges or hand outs, heroin maintenance, non-abstinence based treatment, and prevention messages which accept drug use or encourage drug use in adolescence as inevitable. “Harm Reduction” policy is resulting in increasing drug use and crime throughout countries which have implemented it. Specifically, Canada, Holland, Switzerland, Australia and some cities in the United States have seen their drug problems worsen under the softened “Harm Reduction” policies. It is clear that the fallout of soft drug policy particularly threatens the well-being of adolescents. In contrast, the restrictive policies of some countries such as Sweden demonstrated substantial successes at reducing use.

While United States drug policy is still largely restrictive and demonstrating successes, some “Harm Reduction” policies are being recommended by groups and individuals seeking to soften drug policy. Policy makers in the United States should heed the cautionary notes regarding the problems with “Harm Reduction” policy which have manifested in other countries. Dr. Eric Voth, a presenter at the World Conference and Chairman of the Institute on Global Drug Policy commented, “It is increasingly clear that ‘Harm Reduction’ policy should be regarded as Harm Production policy. Effective drug policy should instead embrace Harm Prevention and Harm Elimination"

The Institute on Global Drug Policy is an alliance of physicians, scientists, attorneys and drug specialists advocating public policies that curtail the illegal use of alcohol or harmful drugs. It is a division of Drug Free America Foundation, Inc., a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization based in St. Petersburg, Florida that educates the public about dangerous shifts in drug policy.

Posted by Voth- IGDP on 05/16/01.