BRITISH COLUMBIA, CANADA – A Canadian province has announced that it going to experiment with decriminalizing drug possession of smaller amounts of what many believe to be hard and illicit drugs.
British Columbia asked for an exemption of the current criminal code following a year in which more than 2000 people died of overdoses.
They were granted a three-year window to test-pilot the effort.
The program, never before attempted by a province in the US’s northern neighbor, allows adults to possess up to 2.5 grams of opioids, cocaine, meth, and MDMA (ecstasy, Molly). It further stipulates that while those drugs can be a combined possession, the total cannot exceed 2.5 grams.
Note: opioids include drugs like codeine, fentanyl, heroin, hydrocodone, hydromorphone, meperidine, methadone, morphine, opium, oxycodone, and oxymorphone. A citizen in BC, Canada can possess 2.5 grams of fentanyl, as long as it is for personal use.
The substances themselves remain illegal. But adults found with less than the prescribed amount will not be arrested, charged or have their drugs confiscated.
The catch? It has to be for personal use.
So, what about 2000+ overdose deaths led to the pilot program launch?
The province said they petitioned the federal government for the exemption “to remove the shame that often prevents people from reaching out for life-saving help”, according to an article by BBC.
#NEW: #Ottawa has accepted #BC 's application for a Subsection 56(1) exemption from the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.This removes criminal penalties for people who possess small amounts of illicit drugs for personal use. #bcpoli #cndpoli #overdosecrisis #poisoneddrugs pic.twitter.com/sme83Vi3On
— Melanie Nagy (@MelanieNagyCTV) May 31, 2022
Carolyn Bennett, federal Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, pandered to the pro-drug use crowd, saying:
“We are doing this to save lives, but also to give people using drugs their dignity and choices.”
Bennett hopes that the “scheme” will become the template for other provinces across Canada to emulate.
Kennedy Stewart Vancouver’s mayor added that this move “marks a fundamental rethinking of drug policy that favors healthcare over handcuffs.”
The program hasn’t officially launched yet. It is slated to be in effect from January 31, 2023, to January 31, 2026.
While the province is literally endorsing personal use of an illegal substance, there are exceptions to the exemptions.
Possession of those substances on school grounds, child-care facilities and airports would still be considered criminal possession. Also excluded from participation are members of the Canadian military.
Calls to change drug possession laws have been coming from numerous public health officials across the country, as well the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police.
In the past 6 years, starting in 2016, more than 9,000 people in BC have died of drug overdoses.
All because, according to healthcare officials, there is a stigma associated with seeking help for drug addictions. People are scared of being arrested and incarcerated if they seek help.
Lost in that argument is the fact that fear of incarceration and death are not enough to keep people from becoming addicts in the first place.
Two US states away from BC, Oregon decriminalized some illicit drug possessions in 2018.
There does not appear any verifiable data that shows drug users in the state seek treatment at a higher rate. All it has done is reduce the number of drug arrests.
Is it possible that drug abusers no longer worry about their usage knowing that it is no longer a criminal act?
Meanwhile, across the entirety of Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently announced a new law prohibiting the purchase, sell or trading of handguns in the nation.
If you already possess a Possession and Acquisition Licence (PAL), and already own a handgun, you are able to retain that weapon. However, there will be no allowance for you to sell or trade that handgun to anyone, even if they also possess a PAL.
In other words, no new acquisitions of handguns.
In 2020, they passed a federal law that now criminalizes possession of what they deem to be “assault” weapons, such as the AR-15. If you were already an owner of a firearms covered by the new law, you have until October 30, 2023, to comply with the law and surrender that weapon to the proper authorities, says Canadian law firm, Mickelson & Whysall.
So, you cannot buy a handgun, but you can buy and possess 2.5 grams of fentanyl.
Way to go, Canada.
For more on these types of decriminalization of hard drug use, we invite to
Overdoses climb after Democrats in Colorado decriminalize possessing certain dangerous narcotics
DENVER, CO – After a recent increase in overdose deaths in Colorado, calls to undo the “mistake” of decriminalizing possession of certain hardcore narcotics are getting louder…from both sides of the aisle.
“Colorado’s fentanyl rates rose even faster in the most recent two-year span.”
Because Gov Jared Polis(D) and Colorado Democrats turned drug possession into only a misdemeanor.
— Mr T 2 (@GovtsTheProblem) February 26, 2022
In 2018, lawmakers in Colorado passed a law, known as House Bill 19-1263, which lowered criminal penalties for the possession of schedule II drugs, which includes fentanyl, from a felony to a misdemeanor.
Lowering the criminal penalties made the possession of up to four grams of the dangerous drug a misdemeanon, which most likely meant those caught walked away with at most a court date.
While 4 grams sounds like a very small amount, 1-2 grams can kill a person because of its lethality. Oftentimes, drug dealers will get the drug and sell it as heroin, meaning that the user may not even know that they are ingesting the dangerous narcotic.
Despite the risk, when the bill went in front of Democratic Colorado Governor Jared Polis, he signed it into law in May of 2018.
It’s something that Republican lawmakers say was a drastic mistake that needs to be corrected.
Sat down with Colorado US Attorney Cole Finegan who’s compelled to talk about the fentanyl crisis. We discuss the federal approach to enforcement in the wake of what has been considered the failure within “the war on drugs.” His office is focused on dealers, he says. pic.twitter.com/5mGnKCwznC
— Jeremy Jojola (@jeremyjojola) February 25, 2022
One of the loudest critics of the bill is Republican Colorado State Senator Barbara Kirkmeyer who said:
“Clearly a mistake was made [in lowering possession to a misdemeanor]…we need to fix this.”
Senator Kirkmeyer noted the recent deaths of five people in the Commerce City area which has been attributed to overdosing on fentanyl. The Senator alluded that these deaths are just some of the many that have happened as a result of the bill becoming law.
Colorado’s top federal prosecutor says fentanyl dealers are a target https://t.co/FhfiPcAms7
— 9NEWS Denver (@9NEWS) February 26, 2022
The Senator reported that the state had 147 deaths in 2019 before the law went into effect. When it went into effect, the deaths shot up 382 percent, a total of 709 in 2021. The rise in deaths has placed the state second in the country for overdose deaths. Senator Kirkmeyer said:
“Clearly, we don’t want to become number one.”
The concern over overdose deaths is shared on both sides of the aisle as Democratic Colorado House Speaker Alec Garnett noted:
“Fentanyl is the most dangerous substance that man has ever created; it’s not really a drug, it’s like a toxin…that poisons people. It’s definitely something I’m working with law enforcement and with public health officials to try to get right.”
While Speaker Garnett agreed that there was a problem, he stopped short of providing any type of solution to the issue. However, Conor Cahill, a spokesman for Governor Polis, did offer a solution, a change in the law to hold people accountable. He said:
“Fentanyl is devastating our communities. Governor Polis believe the General Assembly needs to act on a comprehensive approach to address the dangers of fentanyl including increased criminal penalties.
While there is no guarantee that increased criminal penalties would have prevented this tragedy, we clearly need real consequences and harsher sentences for those involved with dealing or possessing enough fentanyl to kill people.
“This drug is unlike any our country has seen before, people are taking it without even realizing they are doing so, which is why we urgently need comprehensive solutions that include harsher penalties and also addresses the unique nature of this crisis and to do more to bring awareness to the problem.”
Michael Allen, the attorney for the Fourth Judicial District in Colorado Springs is also calling for lawmakers to take action. He said:
“The only people that can fix this are the governor and those elected to the Colorado legislature. I can tell you that cartels will continue to take advantage of the weaknesses in our laws until those in power get serious about closing the loopholes.
“The first step should be increasing the penalty for possession of fentanyl back to a felony because as little as 2 mg of fentanyl can be deadly. The second step should be including a sentencing enhancer that includes a mandatory prison sentence for those who distribute fentanyl that leads to an overdose death.
Finally, let us not forget the importance of treatment.”
The Hartford Police Department responded to a 13-year-old teenager who had overdosed on January 13th. Despite all life-saving efforts, the child died from the overdose on the 15th.
When the Hartford Police Department searched the room of the teenager, they discovered 100 bags of fentanyl, which is “up to 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine,” inside of his room.
Police allege that the drugs they located matched 60 bags of the narcotic found at the Sports and Medical Science Academy, a school in which the teen attended. In a statement, the Hartford Police wrote:
“This fentanyl was packaged in the same manner as the bags located at the school, had the same identifying stamp, and tested at an even higher purity (60% purity).
We can confidently say that the fentanyl that caused the overdose was the same fentanyl that was located in the juvenile’s bedroom.”
Detectives in the case reported that two other students at the school had been sickened after exposure to the drug. Police have not reported if the exposure was intentional but did state that both have recovered.
Police reported that there is a person at the teenager’s home that has a criminal history which they have labeled as a “person of interest” in the case.
Additionally, they have interviewed the teenager’s mother who they do not believe has any involvement in her child’s death. The Hartford Police Department reported:
“At this time, we have no evidence to support her having any prior knowledge of her son’s possession of the fentanyl.”
When news first broke of the teenager’s death, Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin released a statement:
“Our city grieves for this child lost, for his loved ones, his friends, his teachers, and the entire SMSA family…
“We still have much to learn about the circumstances of this tragedy, and about how a child had access to such a shocking quantity of such deadly drugs, and our police department will continue their investigation and seek to hold accountable the adults who ultimately are responsible for this child’s death.”
Hartford Superintendent Dr. Leslie Torres-Rodriguez reported that she had arranged for grief counselors to be present at the school when it reopened after it had been cleaned. She said:
I extend my heart and offer my deepest condolences to the student’s family, friends, and loved ones for their loss. I ask that everyone keep the family, friends, and the entire school community at SMSA in their thoughts and prayers.
“This tragic loss will raise many emotions, concerns, and questions for our school community, especially our students. Our school and district Crisis Intervention Team has already been assembled and will continue to help with the needs of students, parents, and school personnel.”
According to the CDC, over 150 people die every single day from overdoses caused by synthetic opioids like fentanyl. This is due to the lethality of the drug which is often mixed in with others like heroin to increase the potency that is provided to the drug user. The CDC reports:
“Powdered fentanyl looks just like many other drugs. It is commonly mixed with drugs like heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine and made into pills that are made to resemble other prescription opioids. Fentanyl-laced drugs are extremely dangerous, and many people may be unaware that their drugs are laced with fentanyl.”
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