Users of hard drugs in British Columbia will dodge criminal charges after the Canadian province was granted permission to trial a liberal drug policy.
As of today, adults in possession of drugs including heroin, methamphetamine, fentanyl and cocaine for “personal use”, will no longer be prosecuted.
But one of Canada’s leading experts on drug addiction, Dr Julian Somers, accused the Government of “extraordinary neglect”.
Federal policymakers granted the Province exemption to remove criminal penalties against adults in possession of less than 2.5 grams of certain illicit substances.
Experts fear the scheme will cause an increase in new drug users who would have previously been deterred by the law.
Dr Somers said the number and diversity of drug buyers “will go up” once it has been decriminalised.
Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, Pierre Poilievre, has accused the national Minister of Health, who granted the exemption, of “flooding the streets with poison”.
Former addict Giuseppe Ganci, who now helps run a drug rehabilitation centre outside Vancouver, said it is naïve to assume that removing the criminal stigma will persuade drug addicts to seek treatment.
Ganci said his own experience is that addicts need to experience some sort of stigma to realise that their addiction has consequences.