Decriminalization begins in B.C. as coroners service releases overdose death data

published on January 31, 2023 by Camille Bains in Toronto Star

VANCOUVER – Decriminalization of people with small amounts of illegal drugs for their own use has become a reality in British Columbia, but substance users and researchers say the change is expected to make little immediate difference because of a toxic drug supply.

The policy shift began Tuesday as the B.C. Coroners Service announced that suspected drug toxicity claimed 2,272 lives in 2022, the second highest in the province over a calendar year, trailing 2021 when 2,306 fatalities were recorded. An average of six people died every day last year.

Health Canada approved B.C.’s application for decriminalization through an exemption from federal drug laws so people 18 and over could carry up to 2.5 grams of opioids such as heroin and fentanyl, as well as crack and powdered cocaine, methamphetamine and MDMA. Users will not be arrested or have their drugs seized by police in what is a three-year pilot project…

View the full article