Deaths increase despite drug decriminalization, experts urge more safe supply for users

published on February 6, 2024 by Alexandra Mehl in The Hamilton Spectator

January 31 marked the one-year anniversary for B.C.’s three-year decriminalization pilot project, where people using up to 2.5 grams of certain illicit drugs would not face seizures, charges, or arrests. But as 2023 saw a five per cent increase in death rates, experts are pushing for expanding the prescribed safer supply to help users on their recovery journey.

“When we’re looking at overdose deaths… one of the things we know very clearly is that people are dying because there’s an extremely toxic supply of drugs,” said Kora DeBeck, an associate professor at Simon Fraser University’s School of Public Policy.

With no health or safety regulations in place, shared DeBeck, the drugs that people have access to are produced by drug cartels and organized crime.

“People do not know what they’re taking,” she said. “We know from toxicology reports and monitoring the overdose deaths that the drug supply is getting more toxic and that is due to how drugs are being produced.”…

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