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Ottawa approves British Columbia’s request to scale back drug decriminalization pilot

OTTAWA — Mental Health and Addictions Minister Ya’ara Saks says the federal government has granted British Columbia’s request to scale back its drug decriminalization pilot program. 

Saks says the change takes effect immediately. 

The province requested that Health Canada amend an exemption allowing the decriminalization of small amounts of drugs such as heroin, fentanyl, cocaine and methamphetamine.

B.C. Premier David Eby said his NDP government was looking to recriminalize the use of those drugs in public spaces such as hospitals and parks.

Saks says she expects police to direct people who need help to proper support systems and only make arrests in extreme cases where public safety is at risk. 

She says decriminalization is only one policy tool to deal with the toxic overdose crisis, adding she is frustrated by Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre’s efforts to make the issue political.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 7, 2024.

The Canadian Press


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