What you need to know about the decriminalization of possessing illicit drugs in B.C.

Starting Tuesday, it is no longer a crime in BC for anyone over the age of 18 to possess small amounts of certain illegal drugs.

This was part of a three-year federal pilot that granted BC an exemption from the Controlled Substances and Substances Act (CDSA). May 31, 2022.

Advocates for drug users say Decriminalization alone will not stop Thousands of people are dying from contaminated drug supplies, others say it go in the right direction About how drug users are treated.

Here’s what you need to know about BC drug decriminalization pilots.

What drugs are in Pilot?

This exemption allows you to legally carry up to 2.5 grams of the following four drugs:

  • Cocaine (crack and powder).
  • methamphetamine.
  • MDMA.
  • Opioids (including heroin, fentanyl, morphine).

Fentanyl and its analogues were detected in nearly 86% of drug toxicity deaths from 2019 to 2022, according to the latest report. BC Coroner Service.

How long will the pilot last?

The waiver pilot is set to run for three years unless canceled or replaced by January 31, 2026.

Watch | Carolyn Bennett says BC’s decriminalization marks a shift in Canada’s drug policy.

The BC exemption for minor possession of some illegal drugs will go into effect on January 31st.

Carolyn Bennett, Minister for Mental Health and Addiction, said the pilot project will run until 2026 and will mark changes in Canada’s drug policy.

A Health Canada spokesperson said the federal government will monitor the pilot throughout that period to assess its effectiveness.

Federal Mental Health and Addiction Minister Carolyn Bennett said Monday that the government will collect data on health, criminal justice interactions, public safety and other indicators over the next three years. That information will eventually be made available to the public through her online dashboard, which is updated quarterly, she said.

Does this mean those drugs can be sold legally?

No. Anyone caught selling drugs or trafficking will continue to face criminal penalties in BC.

Trafficking or possessing illegal drugs (not for personal use) can get you into jail.

What is still criminal about drug use?

Possession of illegal drugs in schools, child care facilities and airports remains illegal.

Multiple municipalities including Vancouverthere are ordinances prohibiting drug use on city facilities and on private property such as malls and cafes.

“However, an adult removed from a private facility is not subject to federal criminal prosecution for personal possession of up to 2.5 grams of an illegal drug listed in the exemption,” states the BC spirit. The Department of Health and Addiction said:

A woman in a mask holds up a sign that reads,
A woman holds a sign during the May 2021 protests. The decriminalized pilot has been criticized for its low threshold, and her supporters say it will not stop the deaths of thousands from the tainted drug supply. (Daryl Dyke/Canadian Press)

How Do Police Enforce Thresholds?

Police have been provided infographics and photos showing what 2.5 grams of the decriminalized drug looks like, officials said.

To identify the drugs someone is in, police officers are instructed to ask drug users what they believe the substance is.

The state has developed a police training process Many departments, including the RCMP and the Vancouver Police Department, require it for all officers.

Protesters march in front of police officers carrying Trojan horses bearing a photo of Vancouver Police Chief Adam Palmer.
Advocates and drug users say the discretion given to police over decriminalization can harm vulnerable drug users. (Daryl Dyke/Canadian Press)

of the government says Police will not seize drugs found on adults.

“Instead, upon request, we will provide information on health and social support, including local treatment and recovery services,” the government said in a statement.

why 2.5 grams?

When a state first applies for an exemption under the Controlled Substances and Substances Act November 2021yielding a threshold of 4.5 grams.

The federal government has lowered the threshold to 2.5 grams when it allows exemptions, citing feedback from law enforcement officers across BC

Addiction Minister Carolyn Bennett said the threshold is a “starting point” and can be adjusted as needed.

However, drug users say both thresholds too low given way most people consume substances.

how did we get here

When BC first applied for the waiver in 2021, it was five years later. public health emergency Declared due to a spike in fatal overdoses resulting from the poison supply.

is more than 10,000 BC inhabitants died Since the declaration of a state of emergency in 2016.

Politicians and advocates have argued that decriminalizing drug use would remove the stigma associated with drug use and treat the crisis as a health problem rather than a crime.

but others — including BC Chief Coroner Lisa Lapointe — Decriminalization doesn’t do much to stop people dying and is accessible Safe supply of medicines I would.

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