Vancouver mayor announces plan to decriminalize simple drug possession

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Vancouver mayor Kennedy Stewart has announced a plan to decriminalize the simple possession of all drugs through a federal health exemption. “It is time to end the stigma around substance use, help connect more of our neighbours to health care and save lives,” Stewart said in a statement. Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police calls for decriminalization of simple drug possession Could Canada follow Oregon’s lead on drug decriminalization? Great ‘green’ broom sweeps across the U.S., clearing the path to legalize weed in several states Vancouver, which declared a Provincial Overdose Emergency in 2016, has seen nearly 330 overdose deaths in the city this year; province-wide, 2020 is likely to be the worst year ever for overdoses. On the heels of Oregon voters choosing to decriminalize the possession and personal use of all drugs earlier this month, Stewart said it’s time for Vancouver to take a similar approach. “My plan would see Vancouver lead the way as the first Canadian jurisdiction to decriminalize personal possession of illicit substances,” he said, adding that Premier John Horgan, the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP) and Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry all support decriminalization. Last year, Dr. Henry called on B.C. to decriminalize simple possession in a special report. “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, but, instead, has increased health harms,” the report reads. In 2018, Dr. Patricia Daly, Vancouver Coastal Health’s (VCH) chief medical health officer, also recommended decriminalization of personal possession of drugs as part of a broader strategy for harm reduction. Dr. Daly said that she supports Stewart’s motion. “Should it be approved by council, my office will work with the City of Vancouver and Vancouver Police…

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