B.C. Minister Judy Darcy Wants Trudeau To Reconsider Decriminalizing Hard Drugs
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 where staff have access to overdose-reversing medication.
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"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."
Darcy said federal government policies have allowed Vancouver to open North America's only injectable heroin clinic for chronic substance users who have failed with other treatment options, and now decriminalization must be considered.
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.
Portugal decriminalized some drugs in 2001
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.