British Columbia is asking the federal authorities for an exemption from the prison penalties for individuals who possess small quantities of illicit medicine for private use.
After an announcement final April, the province has formally change into the primary to ask Ottawa for the exemption from Well being Canada below Part 56 (1) of the Managed Medication and Substances Act.
The applying would decriminalize private possession of as much as 4.5 grams of illicit medicine, together with heroin and fentanyl.
“Substance use and habit is a public well being problem, not a prison one,” Minister of Psychological Well being and Addictions Sheila Malcolmson mentioned Monday in a information launch.
If the federal authorities grants the request, British Columbians caught with lower than 4.5 grams could be supplied with data round accessing habit and well being providers. Police wouldn’t seize medicine from them.
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Greater than 7,700 British Columbians have died from illicit drug overdoses because the province declared a public well being emergency in 2016.
The COVID-19 pandemic led to a surge in such deaths, primarily attributed to a rise in social isolation, utilizing medicine alone, and closed worldwide borders.
The present poisonous drug provide has made the final 20 months the province’s most dangerous.
The province supplied a 43-page report back to the federal authorities as a part of the exemption utility, detailing the latest enhance in deaths linked to increased concentrations of fentanyl.
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Along with the exemption, the province mentioned it continues its different work to stop illicit-drug deaths, together with prevention, prescribed safer provide and different harm-reduction efforts.
The transfer has the assist of the group representing chiefs of police throughout the nation, in addition to B.C.’s chief coroner.
“Criminalizing members of our communities who use medicine has resulted in a long time of inflicting additional harms to many who’re already affected by psychological or bodily well being challenges and/or the consequences of emotional or bodily trauma,” Lisa Lapointe mentioned within the information launch.
“Decriminalization will assist shift our focus from punishment, which has resulted in social isolation, stigma and concern, towards a medical mannequin that acknowledges substance use as a well being problem.”
Virtually precisely a 12 months in the past, Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart introduced a plan to decriminalize easy possession of medication by way of a federal well being exemption. The town submitted its last proposal to Well being Canada on June 1.
Final month, council additionally unanimously handed a movement to again a push for compassion golf equipment to provide safer medicine within the metropolis within the type of a peer-led facility promoting pharmaceutical-grade medicine like heroin, cocaine or methamphetamine to customers over the age of 18.
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