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Court injunction against law banning public drug use disappointing, say police chiefs

VANCOUVER — A top British Columbia law enforcement official says a recent court decision placing a temporary injunction on a law to restrict public drug use takes away police enforcement tools.

Vancouver Police Department Deputy Chief Const. Fiona Wilson, who’s also president of the B.C. Association of Chiefs of Police, says officers are disappointed with the B.C. Supreme Court decision last week that blocks the provincial law.

Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson ruled in favour of an application by the Harm Reduction Nurses Association and imposed the temporary injunction until March 31, pending a constitutional challenge of the law, saying “irreparable harm will be caused” if it comes into force.

The Restricting Public Consumption of Illegal Substances Act was passed by the legislature in November, allowing fines and imprisonment for refusal to comply with police orders not to consume drugs in places including parks, beaches, sports fields and near business entrances and bus stops.

Wilson says police in B.C. now have no grounds to approach people using controlled substances in most public areas unless they are suspected of other criminal behaviour.

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said last week the government was “concerned” by the ruling against laws he said were meant to prevent drug use “in places that are frequented by children and families.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 2, 2024.

The Canadian Press


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