American Pharmacists Association Supports Decriminalization of All Drugs

The American Pharmacists Association (APhA) has taken a bold step toward drug reform by endorsing the decriminalization of all drugs and paraphernalia. The organization’s House of Delegates recently voted to adopt the new policy, making it one of the largest medical associations in the country to support the broad decriminalization of illicit drugs.

Under the new policy, APhA supports the decriminalization of personal possession or personal use of illicit drug substances or paraphernalia. But the association notes that they remain opposed to “the legalization of the possession, sale, distribution, or use of illicit drug substances for non-medical purposes.”

The association also voted to remove its prior policy that said APhA supports the use of drug courts as an alternative criminal justice route for those with drug-related convictions. This was replaced by a policy that says APhA “supports voluntary pathways for the treatment and rehabilitation of individuals who have been charged with the possession or use of illicit drug substances and who have substance use or other related medical disorders.”

“APhA’s historic statement recognizes that criminalization and punishment will only harm the most marginalized among us, and that pharmacists should work to expand access to lifesaving harm reduction and treatment strategies that work,” said Sheila Vakharia, deputy director of the Drug Policy Alliance’s Department of Research and Academic Engagement.

“We have lost over a million lives to preventable overdose deaths during the overdose crisis, and it is clearer than ever that we must move away from a punitive approach toward one grounded in compassion and public health if we want to save lives,” she added.

Adrienne Simmons, director of programs at National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable, said that the association’s support for addressing substance use as a health issue, rather than a crime, strengthens pharmacists’ roles as public health professionals.

The move by APhA follows other countries’ recent decisions to reclassify drugs, such as Australia’s decision to reclassify psilocybin and MDMA as medicines for treating post-traumatic stress disorder and treatment-resistant depression. 

While the road to legalizing drugs for treatment is long and winding, the changes being made by organizations such as APhA and governments such as Australia’s show that there is a growing recognition of the need for reform in drug policy.

Information for this story was found via APhA, Marijuana Moment, and the sources and companies mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to the organizations discussed. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.

Leave a Reply