Liberal government’s own polling said Canadians worried about drug decriminalization

published on May 31, 2024 by Stephanie Taylor in Winnipeg Free Press

OTTAWA – Months before British Columbia sought to scale back its drug decriminalization pilot project, the federal government’s own polling suggested to officials that a majority of Canadians believed the policy would lead to an increase in overdoses.

The results of the 11-page survey by the Privy Council Office, the wing of the federal bureaucracy that supports the Prime Minister’s Office, also suggests Canadians were split over whether decriminalization would make their community any less safe.

“I guess what people are thinking is that (decriminalization) will somehow enable drug use,” said Thomas Kerr, a professor and head of the division of social medicine at the University of British Columbia and the director of research at the B.C. Centre on Substance Use.

Similar opinions were expressed over supervised drug consumption sites and even needle exchanges, Kerr says, adding that fears they would lead to increased use didn’t play out “in reality.”

He also said: “People have really overestimated the impacts of decriminalization, both positive and negative.”…

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