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Politicians can't agree on heroin, so why is it criminalized?

Canada prides itself on being a country that truly cares for its citizens and is compassionate to its citizens' unique situations. Take, for example, individuals with mobility issues. Toronto and cities across Canada have made buildings accessible, services available and other accommodations for people. Similarly, people with serious illnesses and medical conditions are not just told to "get over it" and participate in normal society. Since most people can agree that heroin addiction is a serious medical condition, why then do we criminally charge people for heroin possession?

Being convicted of heroin possession is incredibly serious and it could have a serious, negative impact on an individual's life. Instead of dealing with the ramifications of a criminal conviction, perhaps the criminal justice system would be better off providing treatment for addiction.

Though it is hardly a surprise, politicians in Canada can’t agree about heroin either. With credible medical research saying that providing heroin addicts with injectable prescription heroin is a more effective way of treating heroin addiction than the age-old use of oral methadone, it is not that shocking that Canadian doctors have asked to use heroin when treating addicts. Health Minister Rona Ambrose has unambiguously said that providing heroin to patients through the Special Access Program is unacceptable. Not only is injectable heroin more effective, it is also more cost-effective and more addicts are able to stay in treatment and less likely to take street drugs when given injectable heroin.

Despite this, the federal government continues to harshly punish people who have very little control over their addiction to heroin. Trying to argue that addiction has driven people to use the drug will only get individuals so far with the Crown.

Source: Maclean’s, “The politics of the heroin addict,” Aaron Wherry, 3 Oct. 2013

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