When you have a problem as large and ubiquitous as the world’s issue with illegal drugs, those who feel some responsibility for their fellow man are bound to try just about anything that they can to find relief.
In some locales, they’ve discovered that allowing the use of marijuana, either medicinally or recreationally, can relieve some of the pressures of the opioid crisis playing out in every small town in America.
And in places like Seattle, they’ve tried facilitating “safe” drug to prevent overdoses, with the almost unbelievable idea of “safe injection” sites.
Now, in a western province of Canada, a bold and lengthy experiment is brewing.
Canada’s government said Tuesday it will allow British Columbia to try a three-year experiment in decriminalizing possession of small amounts of drugs, seeking to stem a record number of overdose deaths by easing fear of arrest by users in need of help.
The policy approved by federal officials doesn’t legalize the substances, but Canadians in the Pacific coast province who possess up to 2.5 grams of illicit drugs for personal use will not be arrested or charged.
The three-year exemption taking effect Jan. 31 will apply to drug users 18 and over and include opioids, cocaine, methamphetamine and MDMA, also known as ecstasy.
Some proponents of the idea even want to go a step further, with another controversial idea beginning to emerge.
Dana Larsen, a drug policy reform activist, called the announcement “a step in the right direction,” but said he would prefer to see development of a safe drug supply.
“It’s not going to stop anybody dying of an overdose or drug poisoning,” Larsen said. “The drugs are still going to be contaminated.”
“I think we need stores where you can go in and find legal heroin, legal cocaine and legal ecstasy and things like that for adults,” he said. “The real solution to this problem is to treat it like alcohol and tobacco.”
Standing in stark contrast to this decision was the recent announcement that Canada was set to gently reduce the rights of their citizens to own firearms, and adjust the rights of those who already do.