As opioid deaths skyrocket, Kingston takes a long look at drug decriminalization

published on May 14, 2023 by Trevor Pritchard in CBC News

Nearly two dozen agencies in the Kingston, Ont., area are asking residents what they think about decriminalizing illegal drugs for personal use as the region sees deaths from opioid use skyrocket.

Between 2014 and 2020, there was a 330 per cent rise in opioid-related deaths in the region served by Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington (KFLA) Public Health, according to numbers from the health unit.

As a result, the Kingston, Frontenac, and Lennox & Addington Community Drug Strategy Advisory Committee has launched a survey to get people’s thoughts on decriminalization — a tactic that’s been implemented elsewhere, though not without controversy.

“It’s not quite the same as legalization, but it’s lifting that legal penalty for someone that may have [drugs] on them,” said Sara Tryon, program planner with KFLA, one of the committee’s community partners…

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