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Decriminalization of possession of small amounts of drugs in British Columbia

In early June, the federal government announced a 3-year pilot project to decriminalize possession of small amounts of drugs in British Columbia.

As of January 31, 2023, adults 18 years of age or older will be able to possess up to 2.5 grams of opioids, cocaine, methamphetamine and MDMA for personal use.

Since the opioid crisis began in 2016, the evidence has been overwhelming: the number of overdose deaths is steadily increasing. Since January 2022, there have been over 548 overdose deaths, according to Coroners Service data.

With this proposal, the government recognizes that the war on drugs is counterproductive and that giving rights to people who use drugs is the only way to address the opioid crisis.

This measure remains a small step forward. The authorized threshold is still too low and does not reflect current consumption habits, but it is a good start; it must be accompanied by other measures, such as supplying safe substances, opening more injection sites, increasing prevention among the general public, and supporting people who want to stop using.

Keep in mind that decriminalization is not legalization. These substances remain illegal to sell and are subject to arrest and prosecution.

Naloxone kits are available in pharmacies for free. Getting one is a simple gesture that can save lives

More information on Radio-Canada (In french)

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