By Matt Ferner and Ryan Grim for The Huffington Post. A report this week claiming that a top U.S. drug official derided harm reduction strategies as a coded way to describe drug legalization was actually a mischaracterization.

Harm reduction policies aim to curb the harmful consequences associated with illicit drug use, while recognizing that totally eradicating drugs is unrealistic. Vice News reported that William Brownfield, the assistant secretary of state in charge of international narcotics and law enforcement affairs, “startled activists when he said harm reduction had become a ‘backhanded way to describe legalization’” at the U.N. Commission on Narcotic Drugs session that concluded in Vienna on Thursday.

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