Last month, the province of British Columbia received permission from the federal government to decriminalize the possession of various drugs. This news from the province, which is home to roughly 5 million individuals, was announced by the minister of Federal Mental Health and Addictions, Carolyn Bennett.
The measure’s objective is to help alleviate the opioid overdose crisis, which has affected this particular province greatly. The new regulations, which will decriminalize the use and possession of illegal substances such as fentanyl and heroin, will come into effect on January 31, 2023. It should be noted that the sale and distribution of these illicit substances remains prohibited.
Under the new regulations, individuals found to be in possession of less than 2.5g of these illicit drugs will not be jailed. Furthermore, law enforcement will be required to offer information on addiction and health services to these individuals and how these services can be accessed, instead of seizing the drugs and arresting said individuals. However, suppliers of these illicit substances will continue to be arrested and prosecuted.
Stigma usually drives individuals to hide their drug use in fear of being shamed, often also avoiding healthcare. Many hope that decriminalizing the use of these illicit drugs will eliminate the shame, fear and stigma carried by individuals addicted to drugs and encourage them to reach out for help and treatment.
This approval comes after the province requested that the federal government grant it an exemption from the law that criminalizes the possession of a range of drugs. While the province’s government had initially asked for the limit to be 4.5g, the federal government granted them an exemption with a 2.5g limit.
The opioid epidemic has risen significantly in the province the last few years. Last year, illegal substances claimed the lives of about 2,200 residents. This figure represents a 400% increase in the number of individuals who lost their lives to illicit drugs in comparison to the figures recorded in 2015.
This move by the Canadian province is a step forward in helping end the global war on drugs. It is expected that British Columbia’s success may prompt other provinces in Canada to follow suit.
On a national scale, there is a measure supported by the federal wing of the New Democratic Party that would decriminalize the possession of most drugs in all of Canada’s jurisdictions. However, there is no indication that it may be approved any time soon.
With some psychedelic substances proving to be helpful in combating addiction, companies such as Delic Holdings Corp. (CSE: DELC) (OTCQB: DELCF) could have a future role to play by developing formulations that can rewire the brains of addicts so that they break free from their harmful conditions.
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