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Council officially backs Declaration

The City of Vancouver has voted unanimously to endorse the ViennaDeclaration, an international campaign calling for governments to adoptevidence-based drug polices that reduce harm, rather than tougher laws.

The City of Vancouver has voted unanimously to endorse the Vienna Declaration, an international campaign calling for governments to adopt evidence-based drug polices that reduce harm, rather than tougher laws.

This means that city policies regarding urban health and drug addiction will now be guided by science and data, not ideology, said Coun. Kerry Jang, who brought the motion to council.

“As we get more municipalities endorsing (the Vienna Declaration) it’s saying this is something the whole country needs to do,” Jang said.

Vancouver’s supervised injection site — which research shows reduces the spread of disease, prevents overdose deaths and points users toward treatment — is governed by this principle.

The federal government has tried several times to shut the facility down, arguing it violates drug laws.

Dr. Evan Wood, founder of the International Centre For Science In Drug Policy, said the endorsement is timely, given that the federal Conservatives are proposing mandatory minimum sentences for even minor drug offences.

“Research from the U.S. demonstrates that Bill S-10 will only increase drug market violence ... and direct billions of taxpayer dollars into failed policies instead of towards proven prevention and treatment approaches,” added Dr. Julio Montaner, director of the B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS.

“It’s huge to have Vancouver behind this (cause),” he said. “(When) we came out with the Vienna Declaration in the summer, the ... federal government said ... it was not in keeping with (its) policies. (But) major cities in this country are actually sending the opposite message.”

Montaner, who received the 2010 Prix Galien Canada award in Ottawa on Tuesday, said as more cities back the Declaration, the government won’t be able to keep ignoring the issue.

“The fact that we have (council’s) support is a clear demonstration that those who are close to the action and close to the evidence are open-minded enough to (support the declaration),” Montaner said.

 
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