#PeersInThePandemic Demand 5 – Act on Decriminalisation

7 - 11 December, 2020

The criminalisation of drugs is the basis of systemic issues faced by people who use drugs. Acting on decriminalisation is necessary to ensure all other reforms are achievable and sustainable. COVID-19 has shown us the dangers of failing to do so; within a lockdown environment people who use drugs are forced to rely on an increasingly unsafe supply of drugs, put themselves at risk for exposure when buying/selling drugs, and have found themselves targets of police emboldened by emergency powers and acting on existing discrimination against peers. All of this is exacerbated by an ongoing overdose crisis. Our campaign will end with a call for decriminalisation without discrimination, eliminating all elements of the criminal justice system from the lives of people who use drugs.

Hashtag of the week: #DecrimTheSystem
Please use this along with #PeersInThePandemic and #HarmReduction all week

Sample social media text:

  • Securing a #SafeSupply of drugs will notably help protect the health of peers during #COVID19 and beyond. #DecrimTheSystem #SafeSupply #PeersInThePandemic
     
  • Criminalisation has increased health risks for people who use drugs during #COVID19. #Decrim saves lives. #DecrimTheSystem #PeersInThePandemic
     
  • Effective #HarmReduction is impeded by prohibition. #DecrimTheSystem to meet the health rights of peers NOW #PeersInThePandemic
     
  • #COVID19 lockdown measures have forced people who use drugs into high exposure environments. A #SafeSupply could prevent this. #DecrimTheSystem #PeersInThePandemic
     
  • #COVID19 lockdown measures increasing police attention towards people who use drugs proves prohibition was always about social control and never about drugs #DecrimTheSystem  
     
  • People who use drugs will never be free of harm so long as states fail to act on #Decrim. Time to #EndtheDrugWar and #DecrimTheSystem #PeersInThePandemic

Relevant data collected from INPUD's peer research on COVID-19.

  • Almost 80% of survey respondents reported no change in drug laws in response to COVID-19. Only 3% of respondents reported observing any change during COVID-19 towards decriminalising drug use and possession.
    • Reliance on the illicit drug market during lockdown has raised prices and decreased the quality of drugs available, exasperating existing problems with the lack of safe supply.
    • Over 40% of survey participants reported people who cannot access OAT or other medications due to lockdown are turning to the less safe illicit market.
  • Respondents noted increased police presences on people who use drugs, people who live outside and sex workers during lockdown. This has resulted in large fines and even imprisonment. 

Click here to return to the #PeersInThePandemic Campaign Hub