Canada Moves to Decriminalize Possession of ‘Hard’ Drugs

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On Tuesday, May On the 31st, the Canadian government made a decision that was the first of its kind for the country. From 31 January 2023, the province of British Columbia will conduct a three-year trial in which people over the age of 18 will be able to possess up to 2.5 grams of opioids, cocaine, methamphetamine and MDMA. without stopping. seizure, or charge. Canada joins a handful of countries with existing decriminalization policies; others include Portugal, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, and the United States (Oregon decriminalized possession of small amounts of hard drugs in 2020).

A decriminalized drug resides in a land of no one constitutional, neither legal nor illegal. The policy basically implies that possession will not result in handcuffs and that a substance use disorder will not be treated as a crime. “This has long been expected,” says Daniel Werb, director of St. Paul Hospital’s Drug Policy Evaluation Center. Michael of Toronto. “This is something that people have long understood: that you can’t stop yourself from getting out of this problem.”

And it really is a problem. The war on drugs has been going on for half a century, and the writing is on the wall: it obviously doesn’t work. “The record is clear that the world war on drugs has been a total failure of catastrophic politics,” says Ben Perrin, a law professor at the University of British Columbia and author of Overdose: Lack of Love and Hope in Canada’s Opioid Crisis. The criminalization of drug use is disproportionately targeted at the marginalized, including black and indigenous communities, the homeless, and the mentally ill. And the stigma attached to criminalization makes people less likely to seek help and more likely to use drugs alone, which contributes to higher overdose rates.

But proponents of drug policy reform say decriminalization, or “describing,” is just the first in a long list of major revisions needed to address Canada’s catastrophic opioid epidemic. While it is a laudable political move, the decision is nothing more than a bandage on this open wound, which only got worse during the pandemic. British Columbia is the epicenter of the crisis in Canada and has one of the highest drug-related death rates in North America. The province’s opioid epidemic was declared a public health emergency in April 2016 and since then more than 9,400 people have died from overdoses.

Proponents of her case have been working to make the actual transcript of this statement available online. In addition, Canadian research shows that people who are imprisoned, whether for drug-related reasons or not, have a substantial risk of overdose after release; one study found that in the two weeks after someone was released from prison, their risk of overdose was more than 50 times greater than in the general population. Another found that one in 10 overdose deaths occurs in people who were released from prison last year. “In other words, prisons are like a death sentence for many people with substance use disorders,” says Perrin.

Criminalization aggravates a vicious circle of poverty, stigma, discrimination, unemployment and recidivism, making it more difficult to stabilize substance use, says Adeeba Kamarulzaman, president of the International AIDS Society. (Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary-General, once said: “A young person’s criminal record for a minor drug offense can be a much greater threat to his or her well-being than occasional drug use).

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