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British Columbia to join small group of jurisdictions with decriminalization of hard drugs

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VANCOUVER — British Columbia will soon join a handful of jurisdictions around the world where drug addicts are not criminalized for possessing small amounts of certain illicit drugs for personal use.

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No charges will be laid in British Columbia against anyone 18 or older with up to 2.5 grams of opioids, cocaine, methamphetamine or MDMA, also known as ecstasy, for three years , as of January 31, 2023.

Uruguay, Portugal, Mexico, Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador and the state of Oregon have all introduced some form of decriminalization in an effort to reduce overdose deaths.

Portugal was the first European country to decriminalize all drugs in 2001 and users received therapy rather than prison sentences, but British Columbia’s Addictions Minister Sheila Malcolmson said the decriminalization would not mean forced treatment.

Malcolmson also says the substances will not be confiscated, unlike in Oregon, where possession carries a $100 fine.

Carolyn Bennett, federal Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, says a proposal to decriminalize Toronto Public Health is currently under consideration, and the government plans to work with the city in the same way it does. did it with BC to “get it to a place that would be successful.

She says there has also been some interest in Montreal, Edmonton and Saskatoon, but they have not submitted proposals calling for decriminalization.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on June 1, 2022.