Over 500 people have died of overdoses in B.C. during the first five months of the year. (Photo: Paul Henderson)

POLL: Do you support decriminalizing simple possession of prohibited drugs?

  • Jul. 15, 2020 3:00 p.m.

It is a crisis that shows no signs of abating – a medical emergency threatening the lives of countless British Columbians.

No, it is not the COVID-19 pandemic, but drug overdoses that have claimed the lives of 554 B.C. residents during the first five months of the year.

And an unexpected source is prescribing a new method to battle the rising tide of overdose deaths.

The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police is is calling for the decriminalization of simple possession of illicit drugs, saying simple possession arrests have proven ineffective and do not save lives.

B.C. Premier John Horgan is strongly backing the call by national police chiefs.

“Anything that we can do to reduce the deaths and reduce the dependence, and quite frankly, to free up law enforcement to do other things, I support,” he said.

ALSO READ: B.C. premier applauds call to decriminalize drug possession

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has also strongly advocated for a shift from criminal sanctions to a health-based approach to dealing with drug addiction. In April, Henry said the province can do more without Ottawa changing the Criminal Code.

“The predominantly criminal-justice-based approach to psychoactive substance use has given the overwhelming balance of power to law enforcement as a policy tool in the context of attempting to prevent harms from substances,” Henry wrote in a report issued April 24.

ALSO READ: Victoria rally calls for drug decriminalization

Moms Stop the Harm and South Island Community Overdose Response Network staged a rally in Victoria last month aimed at ending the war on drugs and mobilizing for sustainable alternatives.

“Having people go through the revolving door of the justice system is not getting at the root of what is a public health problem,” said Jenny Howard, who lost her 24-year-old son to an overdose in 2016. “This is really a health issue and as a health issue, it is a human rights issue that is not being properly addressed.”

Do you support decriminalizing simple possession of prohibited drugs? Take our poll and let us know what you think.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

West Shore’s 10 worst intersections for crashes in 2019

Millstream Road, Veterans Memorial Parkway area continues to be a hotspot

One dead as fish boat sinks off southern Vancouver Island

Shawnigan Lake-registered Arctic Fox II went down off Cape Flattery, west of Victoria

Saanich council seeks more information after hearing Uptown-Douglas plan

Council asks for further reports on economic, housing, transportation plans for corridor

Three active COVID-19 cases on Vancouver Island

Since July 24, Central island has had five new cases, North one, South none

Victoria police seize replica handgun and bullets

Unrelated call leads police to functional replica

Man arrested after stabbing incident at makeshift camp near Vancouver Island mall

RCMP in Parksville report 28-year-old man taken into custody without incident

Canucks ride momentum into NHL playoff series against defending Stanley Cup champs

PREVIEW: Vancouver opens against St. Louis on Wednesday

Man, 54, charged in connection with fatal attack of Red Deer doctor

Doctor was killed in his walk-in clinic on Monday

Landlord takes front door, windows after single B.C. mom late with rent

Maple Ridge mom gets help from community generosity and government

42 more people test positive for COVID-19 in B.C.

The province has recorded no new deaths in recent days

Joe Biden selects California Sen. Kamala Harris as running mate

Harris and Biden plan to deliver remarks Wednesday in Wilmington

Lawsuit launched after Florida child handcuffed, booked and briefly jailed

Suit alleges “deliberate indifference” to what should have been handled as a behavioural issue

Russia approves vaccine, Putin hopes to begin mass production

Critic calls decision to proceed without thorough testing ‘dangerous and grossly immoral’

Most Read