We must protect the rights of people who use drugs

Decades of a failed global war on drugs has had a devastating effect on our communities. The criminalization of drug use has led to an epidemic of infectious disease and overdoses, and has needlessly cost countless lives in Canada. We believe that in the interest of health and human rights, criminalization must be replaced with evidence-based policies that uphold human rights and protect public health. Pivot’s health and drug policy campaign works with people who use drugs to make changes that will meet their most pressing needs, including timely access to a range of harm reduction, drug substitution, and addiction treatment options in their own communities.

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Past Victories

Challenging mandatory minimums

Pivot released its comprehensive report on the harms and social costs of mandatory minimum sentences in Throwing Away the Keys, published in 2013 following the introduction of the Safe Streets and Communities Act. Since then, Pivot has led and intervened in several successful challenges to the laws, including the successful 2015 Supreme Court of Canada cases R v Nur and R v Charles. In those cases, the Court found mandatory minimums to be disproportionate punishment. In 2016, Pivot intervened in the Supreme Court case R v Lloyd, leading to the Court striking down a drug-related provision in the law. 

Defending access to harm reduction

A growing number of municipalities have amended their zoning bylaws to restrict access to methadone and harm reduction services. Pivot has argued that these amendments overstep municipal zoning powers and are discriminatory in that they distinguish health care services for people who use drugs from other healthcare uses. The most sweeping anti-harm reduction bylaw in B.C. was introduced by the City of Abbotsford in 2005. In May 2013, Pivot filed a lawsuit and human rights complaint challenging the bylaw, which prohibited all harm reduction uses anywhere in the municipality. In early 2014, the City of Abbotsford voted to amend the bylaw before the case went to court, a huge victory for people who use drugs in the City of Abbotsford and for human rights in this province.