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Drug decriminalization would bring health benefits, internal federal study says

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OTTAWA – An internal federal study says alternatives to criminalizing a wide range of illicit drugs in Canada could result in lower rates of use and fewer harms such as addiction, overdoses, and infectious diseases.

The Justice Department research paper stresses there are healthier and less costly ways of addressing the problem of illegal drug use, and that the biggest hurdles might be more political than practical.

Drawing on international evidence, the paper concludes Canada could be a leader in national and international drug policy reform.

The Liberal government has promised to legalize, regulate and restrict access to marijuana to keep it out of the hands of children while denying criminals the financial profits.

The study, obtained through the Access to Information Act, takes a much broader look at state policies around the world, including approaches to harder drugs such as heroin, and the resulting outcomes.

It finds there are successful alternative approaches, including early education, prevention, and treatment of those who become users.