B.C.’s mental health and addictions minister, Sheila Malcolmson, wants Ottawa to decriminalize possession of small amounts of illicit drugs. Chief coroner Lisa Lapointe agrees, as does Dr. Bonnie Henry and the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police.
In this context, “decriminalizing” means that criminal sanctions, like a prison sentence, are removed, but possession could still result in non-criminal penalties, such as fines.
Trafficking and making illicit drugs would remain prohibited.
Crosstown Clinic in Vancouver is one. Beyond dispensing prescription heroin to ween clients from more addictive drugs, it offers assistance in finding housing and work. Counsellors are available to help clients reintegrate into the community; however, as it stands, the clinic can only treat roughly 200 clients a year. By some estimates, between 3,000 and 6,000 people provincewide will need this form of therapy after decriminalization.
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