Published:August 16, 2021
Saying heroin addicts deserve “compassion and support,” Health Minister Patty Hadju said the Liberals are considering legalizing the drug.
Blacklock’s Reporter says Hadju said the feds “are exploring all options.”
“Substance use is a health issue,” Hajdu said in a statement.
“It is not a moral issue or a criminal justice one. People who use drugs deserve our compassion and support.”
The recommendation to amend the Controlled Drugs And Substances Act followed a two-month review by an expert task force on Substance Use. The panel in two reports said simple possession of heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine and all other narcotics should be decriminalized.
“Penalties of any kind for the simple possession and use of substances are harmful to Canadians,” the panel wrote.
It said outlawing use of hard drugs “needs to end.”
“Canada’s current policies are based on an outdated and deeply problematic position which the task force members reject that devalues and dehumanizes people who use drugs by labeling them as immoral, ‘addicts’ or weak,” said the report.
“Furthermore, by criminalizing simple possession, Canada’s Controlled Drugs And Substances Act increases the stigma by labeling people who use drugs as criminals.”
The panel said Canada should adopt measures taken in Portugal. The country in 2001 enacted its Law 30 to become the first nation in the modern era to decriminalize simple possession of all narcotics punishable with a warning or fine, including cannabis, cocaine, heroin, ecstasy, methamphetamine and opioids.
Drug trafficking still remains a felony in Portugal punishable by up to 12 years’ imprisonment.
The task force acknowledged drug use may rise with decriminalization.
“Members of the task force are aware of concerns by some Canadians that removing criminal penalties may be perceived as condoning drug use, or that this may increase access to dangerous drugs or increase substance use disorders and drug toxicity deaths,” it wrote.
Federal data show since Parliament legalized marijuana in 2018 the rate of drug-impaired driving has more than doubled; university students are now three times likelier to use cannabis than tobacco; and illegal cannabis use by minors is rising “following a steady decrease over several years,” according to the University of Waterloo’s School of Public Health.
The Task Force said current controls on narcotics appear race-based and misguided.
“People who use substances are not the problem,” it said.