They’ve lost loved ones, now they’re rallying to decriminalize illicit drugs

published on June 23, 2018 by Pedro Arrais in Times Colonist

More than 200 people gathered on the lawn of the legislature on Saturday to support Moms Stop the Harm, a Canadian network of families and allies who have lost loved ones to drug overdose.

The group is calling for action to decriminalize illicit drug use as a solution to the rising rates of overdose deaths.

“Most of the 500 members of our group have lost children,” said Leslie McBain, who co-founded the group 2 1/2 years ago, after her 25-year-old son Jordan died of a drug overdose.

“We are working hard to make change. We tell people that it’s not for our sons — our goal is to do it for their sons. Our children weren’t criminals, simply drug users.”

According to the B.C. Coroners Service, 511 people died from illicit drug overdoses in the first four months of this year, including 87 on Vancouver Island. Fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opiate, is largely to blame for the rising death toll, the service says.

A public health emergency was declared in 2016 following a sharp increase in opioid-related overdose deaths. There were more than 1,400 overdose deaths across the province last year.

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