B.C.’s drug decriminalization pilot excludes young users — and that will marginalize them, experts fear

published on January 14, 2023 by Akshay Kulkarni in CBC News

Experts say an upcoming pilot to decriminalize possession of small amounts of illicit drugs in British Columbia could increase risks for vulnerable youth because it excludes people under 18.

As of Jan. 31, people aged 18 and older will be able to possess up to a cumulative 2.5 grams of opioids, cocaine, methamphetamine and MDMA within the province.

While advocates for drug users say decriminalization alone won’t stop thousands of people dying from a tainted drug supply, others say it is a step in the right direction when it comes to treatment.

But some say the fact it excludes youth could further marginalize drug users under the age of 18 — especially given that there are no youth-oriented harm reduction spaces in the province.

“I feel like … more criminal charges are coming for a lot of youth,” said Kali Sedgemore, a youth harm reduction advocate…

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