Minor drug seizures by Vancouver Police increased after 'decriminalization,' data indicates

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Minor drug seizures by Vancouver Police increased after 'decriminalization,' data indicates

10 March 2024
Tyson Singh ਟਾਈਸਨ ਸਿੰਘ
Liam Michaud

Vancouver Police Department (VPD) data indicates that seizures of drugs by officers in quantities at or below 2.5 grams increased by 34 per cent in the six months after British Columbia implemented its “decriminalization” model, when compared with the six months prior.

Amid a worsening drug toxicity crisis that has killed over 13,000 people since April 2016, the B.C. government implemented a “decriminalization” framework for certain drugs in quantities at or under 2.5 grams on Jan. 31, 2023, in coordination with the federal government. The federal government granted the province an exemption to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA). The model has a notable number of exceptions and disclaimers.

The Maple obtained the VPD data on drug seizures made before and after decriminalization through an access to information request.

In an email, B.C.’s Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions (MMHA) sent totals that showed a decrease in small drug seizures by police across the province. But the government only included seizures under 2.5 grams linked to interactions in which police deemed simple possession to be the “most serious offence.”

While B.C.’s decriminalization model empowers police to continue to lay possession charges in limited situations – for instance, all drug possession in playgrounds or schools remains illegal – the use of such charges became more restricted.

But police seize drugs and criminalize users under many circumstances where possession is not the primary issue.