Canadians Don't Like Decriminalization
Decriminalization is opposed by Canadians, confirm federal government-funded focus groups. But BC’s government is ignoring public opinion and proceeding anyway.
“Canadians in federal focus groups oppose decriminalization of narcotics, according to a Privy Council Office report. The research paper followed cabinet’s decision to decriminalize personal possession of cocaine in British Columbia effective January 1: “Many were concerned about drug users taking advantage of this initiative.”
Article from paywall reprinted below with permission.
-Blacklocks Reporter Oct. 19, 2022
Canadians in federal focus groups oppose decriminalization of narcotics, according to a Privy Council Office report.
The research paper followed cabinet’s decision to decriminalize personal possession of cocaine in British Columbia effective January 1: “Many were concerned about drug users taking advantage of this initiative.”
“Though some participants felt decriminalization might represent a positive development a large number were more opposed to the idea,” said the report Continuous Qualitative Data Collection Of Canadians’ Views. “Many were concerned about drug users taking advantage of this initiative, using these dangerous drugs more frequently.”
The report is dated June 28. Cabinet a month earlier on May 31 announced it would suspend a 1911 criminal ban on personal possession of cocaine in British Columbia. Amendments to the Controlled Drugs And Substances Actalso repeal criminal sanctions for possession of up to 2.5 grams of opioids, ecstasy or methamphetamine.
“Several worried about the potential health risks, believing in the case of substances such as fentanyl that no amount could be considered safe,” said Canadians’ Views. “Some were also worried about the potential of recreational drug users, especially youth, falling into cycles of addiction and increasing their risk of overdose if provided easier access to these substances.”
“It was widely felt decriminalization alone would have minimal impact in solving what was seen as a growing drug problem,” said the report.
The Privy Council commissioned the focus group study under a $2.4 million contract with The Strategic Counsel.
Mental Health Minister Dr. Carolyn Bennett in announcing the B.C. program called it “first steps in the much needed bold action” to address addictions. “This is not legalization,” Bennett earlier told reporters. “We have not taken this decision lightly.”
“No longer criminally prohibiting personal possession of small amounts of certain controlled substances is just one tool in a full range of solutions to fight the overdose crisis we are facing,” said Bennett. She did not elaborate. The exemption takes effect January 31, 2023 for three years.
The British Columbia cabinet sought the exemption last November 1. It is the first of its kind in Canada since Parliament criminalized cocaine, opium and morphine in 1911.
The City of Vancouver in 2011 won an initial exemption under the Substances Act to permit a drug injection site, the first of 37 currently operating across Canada.
A Department of Health Expert Task Force on Substance Use in 2021 recommended national decriminalization of cocaine, heroin, meth and other narcotics. “Penalties of any kind for the simple possession and use of substances are harmful to Canadians,” said Report No.1 Recommendations On Alternatives To Criminal Penalties For Simple Possession Of Controlled Substances.