Criminal Law and the Counter-Hegemonic Potential of Harm Reduction
38(2) Dalhousie Law Journal 2-27
26 Pages Posted: 9 Mar 2018
Date Written: January 2015
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 criminal justice 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.
Keywords: Harm reduction, criminal law, constitutional law
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