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Harm promotion, dubbed harm reduction, is a flawed notion proponents of the drug legalization movement use as a tactic to normalize drug use, claiming it is inevitable. Harm reduction attempts to reduce the physical consequences of drug use without reducing the use of legal and illegal drugs. The proven efficacy of drug prevention and abstinence-based treatment have the best potential for eliminating harm and addressing the drug problem.

Drug policies that embrace harm reduction strategies inevitably ignore drug use and instead focus on the harm caused by its use. They create the perception that drugs are not so dangerous, a perception that undoubtedly increases drug use. These strategies undermine and destroy prevention messages as they prolong addiction. Harm reduction is actually harm promotion because it asks society to accept drug use by adults and youth, alleging that drugs can be used safely and responsibly.


Harm Reduction emerged in Great Britain from a radical group of physicians trying to soften the public's perception about the harms of drug use. Their philosophy was that drugs should be legal and made less harmful to the user. According to drug legalization advocates, harm reduction decreases the harms associated with drug use without necessarily requiring a reduction in consumption. Drug legalization advocates even admit that abstinence is ideal but claim it is unrealistic and not a desired goal of their strategy. Many proponents endorse harm reduction as a sure-fire method to reduce the spread of hepatitis and HIV/AIDS among intravenous drug users. Unfortunately, the onset of these diseases among users has given major impetus to this flawed concept. Harm reduction cannot account for individuals with addictive behavior and cannot eliminate the harms of drugs; therefore, it has no use in drug prevention, treatment and education.




Representing drug prevention, treatment, and policy organisations from around the world, the International Task Force on Strategic Drug Policy met in Brussels, Belgium on Feb 27-28 to discuss effective drug policy strategies and compose this statement on so-called �harm reduction.� (Signatories on next page)


We support the United Nations position that the goal of national and global drug policies and strategies must be to prevent or stop drug use.  We agree with the United Nations that drug demand reduction is a fundamental pillar to sound drug policy. We support abstinence from drug use as a reasonable and achievable goal for public health policy. We support a policy of no use of illegal drugs or destructive use of legal drugs.

Rational drug policies which recognise that the temporary use of measures to reduce harm with the goal of ultimate abstinence are fundamentally different from so-called `harm reduction� drug policies which accept the inevitability of drug use.

The phrase `harm reduction� and its obvious meaning has been hijacked and cynically employed by those whose goal is to legalise drugs. They use the obvious, universal desire to reduce harm to promote the legalisation of drugs. Drug legalisers use the phrase to gain the sympathy of well-meaning people and government officials.

We oppose so-called `harm reduction� strategies as endpoints that promote the false notion that there are safe or responsible ways to use drugs.  That is, strategies in which the primary goal is to enable drug users to maintain addictive, destructive, and compulsive behaviour by misleading users about some drug risks while ignoring others.  These strategies give the message that society has given up on the addict, condones their drug use, and condemns them to a life of drug dependence. So-called `harm reduction� as a drug strategy undermines drug prevention efforts and messages by taking advantage of drug addiction and deadly diseases like HIV to advance the political agenda of drug legalisation lobbyists and billionaire advocates.

We support the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) position on so-called `harm reduction� that does not support stand alone needle exchange programs and taxpayer-funded shooting galleries (so-called safe injection rooms) because such policies encourage drug use and violate UN Conventions. Article 4 of the 1961 Convention, which:           

�obliges State parties to ensure that the production, manufacture import, export, distribution of, trade in, use and possession of, drugs is limited exclusively to medical and scientific purposes. Therefore, from a legal point of view such facilities violate international drug control conventions.

We oppose usurping multi-national treaties and agreements and replacing the goal of preventing and reducing drug use with a strategy by whatever name (e.g. so-called `harm reduction�) that seeks to normalise various forms of drug use.

We support comprehensive prevention, treatment, and enforcement strategies to prevent and eliminate illegal drug use, and thereby their undeniable harm. We support harm prevention and harm elimination through expanding treatment, outreach, and social services for drug users, addicts, and those with infectious diseases. We support research into effective outreach and treatment techniques for addict populations.   

It is insufficient, illogical, and inhumane to proclaim that drug dependence should be maintained in the name of so-called `harm reduction.� History, science, and reason tell us that drug use can be prevented, and drug dependence can be overcome and its attendant consequences reduced, if not eliminated.

Signatories to the International Task Force on Strategic Drug Policy

Sonita Abrahams �  JAMAICA

Dr. Ernst Aeschbach � SWITZERLAND

Franklin Alcaraz � BOLIVIA

Omar Aleman � CUBA

Al Arsenault � CANADA

Laura Baldivieso � BOLIVIA

Dan Bent � USA

Salomao Bernstein � BRAZIL

Florencia Di Masi Alconada � ARGENTINA

Don Feder � USA

Dr. Guillermo Fernandez � ARGENTINA

Jack Gilligan � USA

Stella Santana � BRAZIL

Dr. Mina Seinfeld de Carakushansky � BRAZIL

Calvina Fay � USA

Maria Margarita Sanchez � COLOMBIA

Dr. David Gross � USA

Stephanie Haynes � USA

Brian Heywood � ENGLAND

Dr. Ed Jacobs � USA

Ben Jenkins � CANADA

Dr. Hans Koeppel � SWITZERLAND

MaLou Lindholm � SWEDEN

Christy McCampbell � USA

Paquita Moncayo � ECUADOR

Dr. Ian Oliver � SCOTLAND

Dr. Bruce Payette � USA

Robert Peterson � USA

Harold Rahm � BRAZIL

David Raynes -- ENGLAND

Dr. Eliseo Regadas Gonzalez � URUGUAY

Jose Luis Rojas � CHILE

Kevin Sabet � USA

Ricardo Sanchez Huesca � MEXICO

Betty Sembler � USA

Ann Stoker � ENGLAND

Peter Stoker � ENGLAND

Dr. Ivan Van Damme � BELGIUM

Alejandro Vassilaqui � PERU

Dr. Eric Voth � USA

Dr. Juan Yaria � ARGENTINA

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Marijuana users are 8 times more likely to use cocaine and 15 times more likely to use heroin. Still sound harmless?