A health emergency that affects all segments of society resulted in 2,300 deaths in BC last year. As a response, the province formally announced that people will no longer face criminal charges for possessing a cumulative total of as much as 2.5 grams of opioids, cocaine, methamphetamine and MDMA for personal use. The substances are still illegal but police are no longer arresting drug users or seizing their supply. Instead, they will provide information on available social supports, health care and treatment options.
“By supporting British Columbia in this exemption to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, (the federal) government is providing the Province with the ability to help divert people away from the criminal justice system and toward the health and social services they need," federal Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health Carolyn Bennett said.
Addiction and toxic drug deaths cause immeasurable damage to families and communities, and add huge costs to society. However, The Chamber is calling on the federal and provincial governments to do more to ensure treatment options are readily available.
"We know that programs like Our Place Society's New Roads has a proven track record of helping people recover from addiction," Chamber CEO Bruce Williams said. "The therapeutic-community based model has some of the best outcomes of any treatment in the world. However, it needs support from government to ensure it can remain operational and increase intake. We have an opportunity to do more, and eventually recreate the success of New Roads at facilities across the province."