Opinion: Decriminalizing drug users is only one part of the equation

published on November 10, 2021 by Guy Felicella in Vancouver Is Awesome

Last week the province announced its proposal for decriminalizing drug users. It’s welcome news, and something drug users, researchers, and public health experts have been advocating for for years. While we wait for the federal government’s response to the plan, B.C. must immediately implement a legally regulated safe supply of drugs. If they don’t, decriminalization alone will do little to stop overdoses.

The reason? Decriminalizing people who use drugs does nothing to address the toxic unregulated drug supply that is killing people.

Let’s start with why decriminalizing drug use is necessary. The ongoing criminalization of people who use drugs has contributed to the HIV and AIDS epidemic and other infectious diseases, fuelled poverty and homelessness, and entrenched racism and colonialism. It creates stigma, shaping how society views people who use drugs. It wrongly places certain substance use within a moral lens. It puts drug users in the criminal system without the possibility of ever escaping. Once you’re deemed a drug user by the law, you’re forever branded a criminal…

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