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Island and Sunshine Coast MP’s push bill to decriminalize drug possession for personal use

The NDP MP’s for Alberni-Clayoquot and North Island – Powell River have pushed a private members bill to decriminalize drug possession for personal use.

The bill proposed by MP Gord Johns and backed by Rachel Blaney, would decriminalize drug possession for personal use and expand access to crucial harm reduction, treatment and recovery services.

Between 2016 and 2020, 1,075 people on Vancouver Island have died from toxic drug poisonings, according to the release. They say death from drug toxicity is now the leading cause for people between 19 and 39 years old in B.C.

The MP’s say the Prime Minister has not done enough to remove stigma surrounding drug use and addiction.

“Justin Trudeau has allowed the stigma around drug use to persist instead of taking real action to save lives. The longer the Liberals drag their feet, the more lives that will be lost,” said Johns.

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“We need to decriminalize immediately and save lives by providing access to a regulated safer supply of drugs for users. Besides these necessary steps, this bill would also require the government to remove barriers to employment, housing and travel for thousands of Canadians by expunging their criminal records for simple possession of drugs.”

The cities of Vancouver and Toronto and the province of B.C. applied to the federal government for the decriminalization of drugs last year.

Johns and Blaney say this is an important step that was supported by the Liberal government’s Expert Task Force on substance abuse and the Canadian Association of Police Chiefs.

“No family should have to experience what so many people in my community have gone through after losing a loved one to drug overdose,” said Blaney.

“Experts are clear that this crisis needs a health-focused approach. People who use drugs should not be treated like criminals, they need better access to harm reduction and treatment.”

Nearly 6,000 illicit drug overdose deaths have been reported in B.C. since 2016.

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