Professional Pharmacists Support Legalization of Drugs!

Professional Pharmacists Support Legalization of Drugs!

Advocates for drug reform and harm reduction applaud the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) for formally supporting the decriminalization of all drugs and drug-related items.

Late last month, the APhA House of Delegates agreed to approve the updated policy, making it one of the largest medical groups in the country to support widespread decriminalization.

The plank declares that APhA is in favor of decriminalizing the private possession or use of illicit drugs or their accessories.

The group is still opposed to making it lawful to own, sell, give away, or consume illegal drugs for purposes other than medicinal ones.

Over 62,000 pharmacy professionals are represented by the 1852-founded APhA, which members decided to eliminate a previous policy plank that supported the introduction of drug courts as an alternative criminal justice pathway for people with drug-related convictions.

A new policy states that it instead encourages voluntary channels for the treatment and rehabilitation of those who have been accused of possessing or using illegal drugs and who also suffer from substance use disorders or other related medical conditions.

The Drug Policy Alliance’s (DPA) Department of Research and Academic Engagement’s deputy director, Sheila Valkyrie, stated in a press release on Monday that the APhA’s historic statement acknowledges that criminalization and punishment will only harm the most marginalized among us and that pharmacists should work to increase access to effective harm reduction and treatment strategies that save lives.

In the midst of the overdose crisis, we have lost over a million people to avoidable overdose deaths, making it more evident than ever that if we want to save lives, we must abandon a punitive strategy in favor of one based on compassion and public health.

The support of the association for treating substance use as a health issue rather than a criminal offense, according to Adrienne Simmons, director of programs at the National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable, strengthens pharmacists’ roles as public health professionals and is a crucial step in addressing the rising overdose and hepatitis C infection rates.

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Public Opinion

Professional Pharmacists Support Legalization of Drugs!

As public opinion has changed away from punitive drug laws toward health-focused harm reduction strategies to address the overdose crisis, the APhA is one of the most recent health groups to support decriminalization, albeit it is not the only one.

The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), which has typically sided with prohibitionists and opposed minor marijuana changes, demanded in February that all currently illegal narcotics be decriminalized in the name of racial justice and public health.

The Minnesota Medical Association (MMA), a significant medical organization, recently supported the expansion of drug decriminalization, expungements for low-level possession, and the promotion of statewide harm reduction initiatives.

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According to a survey conducted last year, a sizable majority of Americans nationwide—including most Republicans—support drug decriminalization. Additionally, there is widespread support for the establishment of overdose prevention facilities where individuals can use illicit drugs under medical supervision and access resources for therapy.

Since people were asked about the decriminalization proposal in 2021 with a different question in a previous Data for Progress poll, support has increased overall by 10 percentage points.

Several states in the U.S., including Massachusetts, New York, and Vermont, have submitted drug decriminalization legislation for the 2023 legislative session.

Congressmen introduced the first federal legislation decriminalizing the possession of all currently illegal narcotics in 2021, hoping to persuade the states to do the same.

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In order to effectively combat substance abuse and the stigmatization of addiction, Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), stated last year that the ongoing criminalization of people for drug use must come to a stop.


Mohit Kumar

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