Friday, September 8, 2017

BC drug minister open to decriminalizing heroin

PM says no to decriminalizing drugs, B.C. addictions minister open to idea | Toronto Star - Camille Bains, Canadian Press:

September 7, 2017 - "Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has closed the door on decriminalizing illicit drugs to combat a national overdose crisis but British Columbia’s addictions minister says unprecedented deaths are a 'wake-up call' to reconsider that stance.

"Trudeau said decriminalization is not the approach Canada will take to deal with deadly overdoses often involving the opioid fentanyl.

"'We are making headway on this and indeed the crisis continues and indeed spreads across the country but we are not looking at legalizing any other drugs than marijuana for the time being,' Trudeau told a news conference Thursday at the end of a caucus meeting in Kelowna, B.C....

"Judy Darcy, British Columbia’s minister of mental health and addictions, said criminalizing people for having limited amounts of drugs for their own use instead of providing treatment puts them at risk of fatally overdosing.

"'I think we need to have this conversation in this country,' she said of decriminalizing small amounts of drugs such as heroin. 'Sometimes governments need to be pushed.'

"Darcy said decriminalization would go a long way in destigmatizing substance use because shame often bars people from getting treatment or even using supervised consumption sites.... 'If this overdose crisis is not a wake-up call, I don’t know what is,' she said. 'Not treating addiction the way we would any other chronic condition clearly is not working'....

"The BC Coroners Service said 876 people died in the province between January and July, up from 483 fatalities during the same months last year.

"Darcy, who spoke about the epidemic Thursday at a drug-conference headlined by an addictions expert from Portugal, said that country’s experience of decriminalizing limited amounts of some drugs in 2001, along with providing more treatment and programs that address stigma, should serve as a lesson for Canada."

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