Canadian government to decriminalise drugs for next three years
It's set to come in next year.
The Canadian Government has announced it will decriminalise hard drugs in small quantities throughout British Columbia in a way to tame an opioid crisis that has killed thousands.
Planning to treat addictions rather than sentencing them, federal Mental Health and Addictions Minister Carolyn Bennett said that an exemption from the criminal code to allow for personal possession of opioids, cocaine, methamphetamine and other hard drugs would begin on 31 January 2023 and last three years.
Adults here will no longer face arrest for possession of up to 2.5 grams of hard drugs, and the drugs will not be seized by police.
Users will now be provided with information on how to seek medical help for addictions.
"For too many years, the ideological opposition to harm reduction has cost lives," Bennett told a news conference.
"We are doing this to save lives, but also to give people using drugs their dignity and choices," she said, adding that it could become "a template for other jurisdictions across Canada."
BC is taking the next steps toward decriminalizing small amounts of certain illicit drugs for personal use, so that we can reduce the fear and shame associated with drug use – making it clear that substance use is a public health issue, not a criminal one. pic.twitter.com/snPhpCGUUd
— Sheila Malcolmson (@s_malcolmson) May 31, 2022
Kennedy Stewart, the mayor of Vancouver, said that the decision "marks a fundamental rethinking of drug policy that favors healthcare over handcuffs."
He added that it was a "historic, brave and groundbreaking step in the fight to save lives from the poisoned drug crisis" and it would reduce petty crimes.
Other Canadian cities like Toronto and Montreal have said they would also like to see similar legal exemptions come into play.
Canada's Addictions Minister Sheila Malcolmson told AFP in November that British Columbia was facing "an overdose crisis that's causing a terrible loss of life."
Speaking at the news conference, she said that the pandemic has impacted it more, saying: "Shame and fear keep people from accessing the care that they need.
"And the fear of being criminalized has led many people to hide their addiction and use drugs alone. And using alone can mean dying alone."