Mark your calendars! As a result of the BC drug crisis, from Jan 31, 2023 onward, you can walk around BC with 2.5 grams of hard drugs like cocaine, crack cocaine, MDMA, crystal meth and opioids in your pocket without worrying about getting busted or having your drugs confiscate.
This move is not legalization but a 3 year exemption under the controlled substances act to decriminalize small amounts of these drugs carried by adults.
On one hand, it’s a good thing
1. It reduces the fear of incarceration, and the
2. shame and stigma which encourages
3. using at safe injection sites instead of alone
4. and asking for help, support and treatment,
5. and in the long run, hoping to end the opioid overdose crisis.
This overdose crisis has been mostly from the tainting of illegal drugs with substantial synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, W-18, etc. Government treatments for opioid use disorder and harm reduction services have been a step in the right direction but are just not enough for this degree of catastrophe. Almost 10,000 have died from drug overdose in BC since 2016.
On the other hand, maybe not:
BC had originally asked for 4.5 grams which is already a low amount, because, for one, many users buy in bulk to save money. As usual, the government is working in “half measures that won’t likely work.” says Ryan McNeil, director of harm-reduction research at the Yale Program in Addiction Medicine and an affiliated scientist at the B.C. Centre on Substance Use.
This behaviour is “consistent with this pattern of [government] co-opting demands by the community for things that will keep them alive and safer, and delivering them in a way that just doesn’t work,” Dr. McNeil said.
So while it seems like the government might be getting it, they’re not really getting it. They’re just playing political games. They’re just exempting BC for now so that they look good and also to avoid having to exempt across country. NDP MP Gord Johns said decriminalization in B.C. was “an important step to stop the harms of failed drug policy,” but also said that letting one province decriminalize and not all the others would leave Canada with a “patchwork” system and put many drug users in danger in the opioid overdose crisis.
And on and on it goes.