A broad-based Canada-wide coalition of human rights, drug policy, community, and drug user organizations are raising serious concerns about a proposed model for drug decriminalization that will be submitted to the federal government for approval. If adopted, the flawed “Vancouver Model,” as proposed by the City of Vancouver, could be a precedent-setting policy change—the first of its kind in Canada—that could pave the way for other cities to follow suit, including communities in Ontario, Alberta, and Quebec among others. It is therefore critical that this initial model gets decriminalization right by centering the health and rights of people who use drugs, as well as the needs of their loved ones and communities.
Joint letter (HLN, CDPC, and Pivot) urging Vancouver to develop a “Vancouver Model” for decriminalization that is appropriately broad and responds to the aspirations and needs of people who use drugs.
Threshold amounts must be appropriately high in order to eliminate both the abuse of police discretion and the enforcement and confiscation of below-threshold amounts.
There is truly no time to waste. We urge Health Canada to listen to the health and human rights experts who have already spoken about this, follow the public health evidence, and issue these exemptions quickly, without onerous and unnecessary conditions or restrictions. Lives and health are at stake.
Principally, we support full decriminalization. We do not support the use of administrative or other regimes to control, coerce, medicalize, pathologize, or penalize drug use.
As the opioid overdose crisis devastates communities across Canada, groups hope that other jurisdictions will follow Vancouver's lead to take meaningful action on full drug decriminalization.
Joint letter (Pivot, CDPC) urging the City Council and Mayor to approve the lease on a prospective overdose prevention site in Yaletown. The paramountcy of public health over community input in the approval process for harm reduction services is established in law and should be followed here.
Read Pivot's new blog on how talk is cheap and local governments must Act Now! to decriminalize simple posession.