Despite the legalization of cannabis currently underway in Canada, the country will not be decriminalizing any other drugs, according to a government official. Thierry Belair, a spokesman for Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor, told the CBC that the federal government has no plans for further decriminalization. The government announcement comes amid calls from major Canadian cities to remove criminal penalties for the consumption and possession of small amounts of drugs.
Civic officials and public health advocates in Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal have called on the federal government to enact such changes. Fardous Hosseiny is the national director of research and public policy at the Canadian Mental Health Association, a group that supports the decriminalization of drugs. He said that criminalizing drug use prevents people from getting the help they need and that it is time to try a new strategy.
“Given the scale of the opioid crisis in Canada, we know that we need to take bold action,” Hosseiny said. “We know that evidence tells us that the war on drugs hasn’t worked, so criminalization really stigmatizes people and creates barriers for them accessing treatment and accessing help when they need it.”
Health Canada reported last month that in 2017, almost 4,000 Canadians