Decriminalization, Safe Supply, and Legalization: How to Reduce Drug Overdoses through Policy

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Andreas Gunster


This paper was originally written for Dr. Tara Holland’s Geography 266W course, Geography in Practice. The assignment asked students to develop a research question on a geographical topic of our choice, and then attempt to answer it through a review of relevant literature. The paper uses APA citation style.

This paper evaluates the successes and limitations of a drug decriminalization policy framework at addressing drug-related overdose deaths. Through a literature review on Portugal, a country that has decriminalized all illicit drugs since 2001, this paper argues that while decriminalization minimizes overdoses by facilitating access to harm reduction, it does not address the toxic illicit drug supply. Therefore, to dramatically reduce the risk of unintentional drug overdoses, a medically prescribed safe supply model must be implemented.

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Middle Years Category (30-89 credits)