Baranyai: OD crisis response a painfully slow dance

published on February 19, 2023 by Robin Baranyai in London Free Press

We are waltzing through a public health emergency: Two steps forward, one step sideways, pausing at every step.

Our response to the overdose crisis has been sluggish and incremental. Even as our cities make headway opening lifesaving supervised consumption sites, provinces have shuttered overdose prevention sites in city parks. “Safer supply” pilot programs have shown early  promise, dispensing small quantities of uncontaminated drugs in Ontario, B.C. and New Brunswick, but they don’t nearly meet the demand for a non-toxic supply.

The latest incremental measure is a three-year pilot project in B.C. to decriminalize possession of small amounts of certain hard drugs for personal use. Adults 18 and over can carry up to 2.5 grams of opioids, cocaine, MDMA (ecstasy) or methamphetamine.

The exemption granted by Health Canada is well below the 4.5 g sought by the province, which has borne the worst of this crisis. Even that was deemed too little by many advocates, who noted for some people, 4.5 g might not last a day. How would it support people in rural communities, travelling to access a few days’ supply?…

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