NEXUS Spring Institute

Knowledge exchange in the context of harm reduction for crack cocaine smoking: Learning from cross Canadian experience Buxton, Jane A.; Malchy, Syd


To address the need for sustainable safer crack cocaine use initiatives, we brought together 35 people from across Canada to collaborate, network, and share their experiences in order to identify challenges, gaps, and potential solutions. Our specific knowledge exchange goals for this workshop were: 1) to provide a knowledge exchange venue in which to share recent research evidence as well as information about program initiatives regarding safer crack use, 2) to generate discussion and begin to develop national "best practices" guidelines for safer crack use including gender-sensitive and culturally appropriate services, and 3) to promote and build national research, policy and programming networks and to move forward a policy agenda towards sustainable harm reduction measures for safer smoking of crack cocaine. Participants at the meeting were from diverse sectors including academic, policy, legal, public health, and frontline services including both service providers and users. CIHR requires synthesis, dissemination, and exchange of information to provide health services to be “ethically sound”, which in part calls for consistency with “legal and other regulatory frameworks”. Yet, the current Canadian legal and policy understandings of safer crack use (i.e., misapprehensions about the legal status of safer use items and lack of funding for programs) do not reflect research-based evidence (i.e., research confirming the possibility of disease transmission from unsafe crack use practices). This tension poses serious challenges to knowledge exchange in this area. While some safer crack initiatives have stayed “under the radar” others have been impacted by negative media and municipal and enforcement policies. It is in this conflictual context that we discuss the complexities and results of a cross Canadian endeavour to generate knowledge exchange on safer crack use.

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