About Drug Policy Alternatives

The mission of Drug Policy Alternatives is to contribute to the world-wide movement to change the historically unjust and ineffective approaches to drug policy. DPA uses evidence-informed analysis and principles of social justice to inform and encourage active public participation in this movement.

For more than a century, harsh criminalization regimes have continued to be the norm for drug policy throughout most of the world. Many people have suffered more harm from these policy regimes than they have from their use of drugs. Increased calls for the decriminalization of all drugs abound. DPA supports prompt and thoughtful implementation of these calls. DPA also supports the non-commercial provision of a safer supply of drugs. This supply should be controlled by a public health appointed organization.

The research shows us that it is the use of our long-established legal drugs – alcohol and tobacco – that is responsible for almost all the perennial high levels of drug-related morbidity, mortality, and economic costs. Legal drug industries, strategically, and with zeal, engage in aggressive promotional and retail practices to maximize revenue with little regard for public health and safety. Industry-friendly regulation, and/or poor enforcement of regulation by government continue to play a significant role in enabling unethical and criminal activity by drug corporations. This type of drug crime is rarely punished in a meaningful way, thus contributing to the international pandemics of drug-related harm.

DPA advocates for policy that does not punish drug use, but uses evidence-based prevention, harm reduction, and treatment approaches to minimize the harm. DPA advocates for a less permissive and more diligent approach to government regulation of our legal drug industries. DPA supports the establishment of not-for-profit legalization of drugs rather than the profit-driven models that compromise public health protection for revenue. In a not-for-profit model, there should be no incentive for market expansion. Rather, the existing market should be served with safe and reliable product, coupled with evidence-based information on lower-risk use. The proceeds from these not-for-profit ventures should remain public, not private revenue and used to support drug- and health-related education, research, harm reduction, treatment, and advocacy.

About Mike DeVillaer

Mike is well into his fifth decade of working in the field of drug use, problems, and solutions. He has been a clinician, teacher, community developer, research collaborator, policy analyst, advocate, and a Director at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), one of Canada’s largest mental health and addiction organizations. He currently maintains a part time faculty appointment in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences at McMaster University in Hamilton Ontario Canada. Mike is also a faculty associate with the Centre for Medicinal Cannabis Research at McMaster and St Josephs Healthcare Hamilton, and the Peter Boris Centre for Addictions Research at McMaster. He is a member of the Canadian Public Health Association and the Canadian Society of Addiction Medicine.
Mike was invited to testify on cannabis legalization before the Canadian House of Commons Standing Committee on Health, as well as the Canadian Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology. He has also consulted with the Ontario Legalization of Cannabis Secretariat and the Québec ministère de la santé et des services sociaux on cannabis legalization. Mike’s presentations have been heard by thousands of people including students, health and social care providers, municipal councillors, policy analysts, advocates, activists, and academics. He has appeared on, and been mentioned in, many media platforms and published in academic journals and books on cannabis legalization.

For his educational contributions at McMaster University, Mike was awarded the John C. Sibley Award for Outstanding Contribution to Health Sciences Education and Research.

Mike is the founder and principal of Drug Policy Alternatives. DPA has subscribers from 17 countries across all populated continents.

A full list of Mike’s scholarly activities can be seen at: https://experts.mcmaster.ca/display/devilla