May 31, 2022
By Christine Ross
British Columbia becomes the first jurisdiction in North America to decriminalize possession of small amounts of some illicit drugs.
A record number of overdose deaths has led this new plan for drug users in that province.
Ottawa is allowing an exemption from drug laws for residents who possess up to 2.5 grams of illicit drugs for personal use. B-C had been asked for an allowable amount of 4.5 grams.
The three-year exemption means that starting early next year, drug users 18 and older will not be arrested or charged.
It covers opioids, cocaine, methamphetamine and MDMA – also known as ecstasy.
Possession for the purpose of trafficking, production or export of any of the drugs listed under the exemption is still illegal, no matter the amount.
B.C. Medical Officer of Health Dr. Bonnie Henry says this will help remove stigma and shame.
“It also means that they don’t reach out to health professionals for support or to others to provide them advice and support they need,” Dr. Henry told reporters.