Canada's province of British Columbia is launching its first trial to decriminalize small amounts of hard drugs. From Tuesday, adults may possess up to 2,5 grams of heroin and cocaine. The same applies to drugs such as methamphetamine, fentanyl and morphine.
The federal government of Canada gave permission to the West Coast Province to try the three-year experiment. It follows similar policies to the nearby US state of Oregon, which will ban hard drugs in 2020 decriminalized.
Prior to the launch of the pilot, British Columbia and federal officials set out the rules under approved exemption from the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.
While the above substances remain illegal, adults in possession of less than 2,5 grams will not be charged or arrested. Instead, they are offered information about available health and social services. Federal Secretary of Mental Health and Addictions, Carolyn Bennett, called the move "a monumental shift in drug policy that favors fostering trust and supportive relationships in health and social services over further criminalization."
About 10.000 residents have died of drug overdoses since British Columbia declared drugs a public health emergency in 2016, officials said. “Decriminalizing people who use breaks down the fear and shame associated with substance use and makes them feel safer seeking life-saving help,” said Jennifer Whiteside, the UK's Minister for Mental Health and Addictions.
Thousands of police officers across the province have received training on the rule change, including those in Vancouver, the province's largest city. The program will run from January 31, 2023 through January 31, 2026, unless revoked by the federal government. Some experts have questioned the 2,5g limit, saying it's not enough to account for the habits of many addicts. There are some exceptions to the rule. The sale of drugs remains illegal. Possession of resources on the grounds of schools, childcare and airports is also prohibited.
Source: BBC.com (EN)