B.C. should decriminalize personal drug possession: top health officer, police chief

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The criminal war on drugs has been a failure, causes harm to addicts in the opioid overdose crisis and needs to end in B.C., the province’s chief medical health officer said April 24.

“I believe we need to focus on a public health and harm reduction approach,” Dr. Bonnie Henry told a media conference.

She has the backing of at least one municipal police department.

“Supporting people who use drugs is best addressed through the public health system and not the criminal justice system,” Victoria Police Department Chief Del Manak said.

Henry said B.C. should immediately move to decriminalize people possessing controlled substances for personal use. She said it’s another tool in combating the overdose crisis that claimed about 1,500 lives in B.C. in 2018 alone.

“There is widespread global recognition that the failed ‘war on drugs’ and the resulting criminalization and stigmatization of people who use drugs has not reduced drug use

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