The Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions is hosting a webinar for local elected officials and staff on the decriminalization of small amounts of illicit drugs for personal use. Ministry staff will provide an overview of decriminalization and offer an opportunity for discussion of local government considerations. The session will take place on October 13, 10am-12pm. Registration is open until October 8.
Since BC declared a public health emergency in April 2016, more than 7,500 lives have been lost across the province as a result of illicit drug toxicity. Although BC has made significant progress implementing a wide-ranging response to the illicit drug toxicity crisis, people who use drugs continue to face obstacles accessing these services. In particular, the stigma around drug use, along with the fear of criminal sanctions, are barriers preventing people from accessing life-saving services.
Decriminalizing individuals in possession of drugs for personal use is a significant step in saving lives, reducing stigma, and treating problematic drug use as a health issue and not a moral or criminal issue.
The Ministry has heard from local governments that addressing substance use is a key priority for communities across BC, and the ministry is committed to ensuring that this work is inclusive of a range of voices and partners. The Ministry understands that decriminalization will have impacts across the province and want to hear from local governments as the Province develops a decriminalization model for BC.