A speech at the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs conference from Liberal assistant deputy minister of health Hilary Geller reportedly received an ovation from attendees for Canada’s position on narcotic substances.
“Recognizing the vast array of challenges involved in drug control, Canada believes that we should focus our domestic and international efforts on priority areas that provide the greatest opportunities for improvement,” Geller said in the speech.
Keller said Canada’s approach is to use “evidence-based harm reduction measures” such as needle exchange programs and supervised injection sites.
This conference, held in Vienna, leads to a UN General Assembly special session later in 2016 where nations will discuss changes to international treaties dealing with narcotics.
Geller also touched on the country’s promise to legalize cannabis, a platform at could potentially run against previous international commitments against marijuana.
“The current national approach is not working,” Geller said on cannabis prohibition. “Thousands of Canadians are dealing with the consequences of having criminal records for non-violent drug offences every year while organized crime is reaping the benefits of billions of dollars in profits from the illegal marijuana trade.
“Most Canadians no longer believe that marijuana should be subject to harsh criminal sanctions, and support the Government’s commitment to legalize, tax and regulate marijuana.”