Drug decriminalisation is not to blame for all of our social woes

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Drug decriminalisation is not to blame for all of our social woes

13 May 2024
Andre Picard

Decriminalization is the removal of criminal sanctions for the use or possession of drugs. Specifically, B.C. allows the possession of up to 2.5 grams in total of any of the following drugs: opioids (heroin, morphine, fentanyl); crack and powder cocaine; methamphetamine; and MDMA (ecstasy). Oregon allowed drug users to possess up to one gram of certain drugs such as heroin, cocaine or meth, or up to 40 oxycodone pills. And they could still be fined $100.

That’s it. That’s all. It’s not a free-for-all.

Decriminalization of drugs does not mean drug users are exempt from all other bylaws and laws. They have rights, but they have responsibilities too, like other citizens.

Decriminalization doesn’t mean people can sell, buy and use drugs openly wherever and whenever they please. Firing up a crack pipe in a park, playground or a bus is not okay.

The law doesn’t mean drug users can camp on city streets, in parks, in merchants’ doorways or any place they choose. Drug users can’t defecate or urinate openly, or shoplift with impunity.

Decriminalization doesn’t mean we turn a blind eye to people being assaulted or threatened.

The crime and public disorder that has become all too common on city streets is unacceptable, and the public is right to be angry and demand action.

But recriminalising drug use and possession is not going to make any of those challenges disappear.

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