Canada Decriminalizes Opioids and Other Drugs in British Columbia

Must Read

Facing soaring levels of opioid deaths since the pandemic began in 2020, the Canadian government announced Tuesday that it would temporarily decriminalize the possession of small amounts of illegal drugs, including cocaine and methamphetamines, in the western province of British Columbia that has been ground zero for the country’s overdoses.

The exemption, announced by the country’s drug regulator on Tuesday, comes four years after the country legalized the possession and consumption of recreational marijuana and puts Canada among a small group of countries worldwide that have taken steps to decriminalize illicit drugs.

The announcement was applauded by families of deceased opioid users and by peer support workers, and was supported by police associations and British Columbia’s chief coroner, but many harm reduction activists demanded that the government go further by expanding the exemption across the country and increasing the threshold to include larger quantities.

British Columbia declared drug-related deaths a public health emergency in 2016. Since the pandemic, rates of opioid use in the western province flared to alarming levels, with a record 2,224 deaths in 2021, compared to 1,767 in 2020, and one of the highest per capita rates in North America.

Latest News

More Articles Like This