Canadian police chiefs call on Ottawa to decriminalize drug possession

Efforts should be aimed at cracking down on drug trafficking and production

Canadian police chiefs are calling for the decriminalization of all drug possession. In a new report, the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police called on lawmakers to decriminalize, at the federal level, possession of small amounts of all drugs for personal use. ACCP President, Police Chief Adam Palmer, told the CBC that current drug possession laws "have proven to be ineffective" and "do not save lives".

“The ACCP recognizes that substance use and addiction are public health concerns. Being addicted to a controlled substance is not a crime and should not be treated as such. We recommend replacing the Canadian law enforcement approach to possession with a health care approach that distracts people from the criminal justice system ”. - Palmer on CBC

The research for this document was conducted by the CCPA Special Committee on the Decriminalization of Illicit Drugs. The document notes that between January 2016 and December 2019, more than 15 Canadians died from an opioid overdose and that between January and December of last year, 000 opioid-related deaths occurred. , of which 3% were accidental.

“Currently, people suffering from disorders related to the consumption of psychoactive substances face repercussions on criminal records but also stigma, the risk of overdose and the transmission of blood-borne diseases,” says the report. The aim is to reduce these harms by removing mandatory criminal sanctions, often replacing them with responses that promote access to harm reduction and treatment services ”.

The report suggests establishing more monitored drug use sites across Canada, which already has 49, up from 29 in March last year. The report indicates that the proliferation of sites would lead to a decrease in fatal overdoses and an increase in contacts between social and health services and “marginalized clients”.

The ACCP document also supports the provision of a “safe and predictable supply of pharmaceutical grade opioids for people who use drugs” as most overdoses in the country are linked to illegally obtaining fentanyl.

The report highlights the model used in Portugal, where all drugs are decriminalized. Following the policy change in 2001, the country experienced a decline in adolescent drug use and rates of injection drug use. The country has also seen a dramatic drop in the number of drug-related deaths, from 80 in 2001 to 16 in 2012. Reforms in Portugal have also reduced the number of people arrested and brought to justice for crimes. drug-related - from over 14 in 000 to around 2000 to 5 per year. The Portuguese prison population has also declined, from 500% in 6 to just under 000% in 44, according to the Transform Drug Policy foundation.

In a statement to the CBC, Canadian Health Minister Patty Hajdu and Justice Minister David Lametti said the federal government “remains committed to providing evidence-based responses to help turn the tide of overdose deaths of opioids and other substance-related harms in Canada ”.

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