A rally calling for the decriminalization of drugs in B.C. takes place Friday – the day before the provincial election – in Victoria.
Advocates and families of people touched by addiction will gather at Centennial Square on Oct. 23, calling on all political parties to enact decriminalization to improve the lives of those stigmatized by a criminal justice approach to substance use.
“We know that all levels of government spend a huge amount of funds on the revolving door of the criminal justice system as a response to substance use related actions. Instead of directing a disproportionate amount of our city’s budget on policing, we need to reallocate funds to social services such as mental health, education and housing,” said Jenny Howard, a member of Moms Stop the Harm, told Black Press Media.
Howard says, by increasing the funding to these services, society can better support people individually before their challenges “lead to a moment of crisis that involves the justice system.”
“Our current approach continues to not address the underlying mental health, trauma and poverty-related needs of those who struggle.”
The rally starts at Centennial Square at 3 p.m. on Friday, then participants will march to the Ministry of Health building located at 1515 Blanshard St.