Dalhousie Law Journal


criminal law, harm reduction, drug, cost-effective, counter-hegemonic, empower, policy, Canada, constitutional rights, marginalization, stigmatization


Harm reduction approaches to drug use have been lauded for saving lives, being cost-effective, elevating pragmatism over prohibitionist ideology, being flexible in tailoring responses to the problem, and for their counter-hegemonic potential to empower people who use drugs. This article examines the legal systems engagement with harm reduction, and, in particular,recent cases that incorporate harm reduction s focus on empirical evidence in policy making into Canadian constitutional rights jurisprudence. It argues that harm reduction approaches in this venue may hold promise as a bulwark against some of the marginalizing features of traditional criminaljustice approaches. However, the article also warns of a risk of inadvertently reinforcing the dominant discourse of criminalization and stigmatization as harm reduction s features are embodied within the institutional frameworks of the state.

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Criminal Law Commons