Past time to decriminalize

Based on the monthly reports in 2018, news this week that last year was another record-setter in terms of overdose deaths in B.C. was not surprising.

But it should be enough to warrant a seismic shift in the manner in which society views drugs. 

We applaud provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and others in the medical community for calling this week for the decriminalization of all drugs, a cry that has been heard for years and one that is gaining more traction.

Last year’s sensible move by the federal Liberal government to legalize cannabis should pave the way for all drugs to be taken out of prohibition.

It’s only been about four months, but the sky has not fallen, life goes on as usual and the police can focus on more important issues.

Decriminalizing drugs would produce a clean supply for those using cocaine, heroin and other harder drugs, remove the criminal justice system from an issue that is obviously health-related, provide more opportunities for users to seek treatment, cut down drastically on fentanyl-contaminated product and deal a well-deserved blow to the criminal element that gets rich off the deaths of so many people.

British Columbia was an innovator with the supervised drug use site in Vancouver, an idea that has expanded and is now in in the Interior in communities such as Kamloops. While the practice has its critics, the statistics show no deaths at such sites, while many users have been saved after overdosing.

The province is also in the midst of finding a way of prescribing prescription-grade heroin to chronic users.

To critics, all of the above would result in lives saved and tax dollars saved. The current model of prohibition is taking too many lives and costing all of us in dollars and cents when one calculates the money spent in policing, courts, prisons and hospitals.

Decriminalization is the sensible solution.

–Kamloops This Week


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