Date: Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Today, the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions announced that Health Canada has granted the province of British Columbia an exemption from Section 56(1) of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act to decriminalize small amounts of illicit substances; that is, the cumulative possession of up to 2.5 grams of the following substances: opioids, including fentanyl and heroin, cocaine, crack cocaine, methamphetamine, and MDMA.

For years, VicPD has taken the view that addiction and substance use is a health care issue, not a criminal justice issue. VicPD welcomes this announcement and supports the decriminalization of small amounts of illicit drugs for personal use to reduce stigmatization, direct individuals to a pathway of health, and avoid the criminalization of persons who use drugs.

Ending the overdose epidemic requires an integrated approach, which includes continued public funding for better access to treatment, public education and awareness campaigns, and legislative changes. We must work together to find better pathways to care, support, treatment and recovery.

At the same time, VicPD will continue enforcement efforts against those who import, produce and distribute illicit drugs, especially fentanyl. Decriminalizing drugs alone will not solve the overdose epidemic that continues to claim too many lives across our province.