The Government of BC applied to Health Canada for an exemption that would allow the province to decriminalize those who carry small amounts of drugs, but Moms Stop the Harm sees some flaws in the movement.
Leslie McBain, Co-founder, and Chair of Moms Stop the Harm, said she had some mixed feelings.
“It’s a big step, it’s the first in Canada. Not too many countries in the whole world have done this. So on the one hand I’m really proud of this move, we’ve been asking for it for years.”
“On the other hand, it is flawed. The process that was used to get to what we heard was not… It has some flaws that are really serious,” added McBain.
She said that the threshold of how much drugs could be carried without being arrested is too low, adding that the number is cumulative and that many people addicted to drugs will use different kinds.
“It’s too low for most people who are addicted, and for most people who are habitual drug users. 4.5 grams sounds like a lot to me and to you and to people who don’t know, and who don’t use drugs.”
McBain said the word cumulative was added last minute, and she was really disappointed that all the advocates for the application weren’t notified until it was too late.
She pointed out youth under 19 who get caught with drugs aren’t included in the application, which makes her worry that they’ll get thrown into the criminal justice system instead of receiving guidance and help.
McBain said her third concern was that police are given too much discretion in this application.
The Government of BC also added funding for addictions treatment projects across the province, which McBain was said was a good move, but still didn’t address the toxic drug supply.
“Our number one issue is saving people’s lives. We lost our kids, so we don’t want other people to lose their loved ones. The only way those deaths are going to stop is if we can adopt a regulated legal supply of drugs for people who need them.”
McBain also wanted to remind residents that people who use drugs are still people.
“Approach the idea of drug use and drug addiction, and people who they might see who are using drugs, just to remember that every single one of those people is a human being.”