PRESS RELEASE - Challenging Canada’s prohibition on drug possession. Application filed last week at BC Provincial Court by Sarah Runyon (Marion & Runyon Criminal Lawyers) and Caitlin Shane (Pivot Legal Society). Stay tuned as the case proceeds.
Amid escalating local government efforts to undermine the health and safety of people who use drugs, Pivot and the 2022-2023 Boards of the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users (VANDU) have co-authored a new drug policy report. Talking Back to the City: A manual for winning – and resisting – local drug policy explains what local governments can do (and stop doing) to better serve people who use drugs in their communities, plus insights for democratic organizing at the grassroots level.
On February 10, 2023, Pivot Legal Society filed a petition at the BC Supreme Court to challenge the City of Campbell River’s newly adopted bylaws. The bylaws, which directly undermine BC’s new decriminalization policy, were illegally passed and fall outside the scope of local government powers.
OPS are necessary—both to save lives and in accordance with public health laws. When local governments or police obstruct OPS, they contravene a Ministerial Order; violate provincial jurisdiction over health; discriminate against people who use drugs; and put people’s lives at even greater risk amid overlapping health crises. When health authorities fail to establish or otherwise protect OPS, they breach their legal obligations, potentially amounting to negligence and/or discrimination.
In June of 2022, Pivot and the BC Association of People on Opioid Maintenance (BCAPOM) testified before the Legislative Assembly of BC’s Select Standing Committee on Health. Our goal? Safe supply and an end to municipal/police interference with drug user-led groups.
R v Ellis at the BC Court of Appeal: Fighting for a New Approach to Sentencing in Drug Trafficking Offences
On December 29, 2021, we were thrilled to receive an affirming decision from the BC Provincial Court in the case of R v Ellis. Alongside Sarah Runyon of Marion & Runyon, we successfully argued a departure from BC’s steep sentencing range of 18-36 months for street-based drug trafficking offences involving fentanyl. Rather than serve up to 3 years in jail, our client Tanya Ellis was instead able to access the health supports she wanted and to focus on raising her children. Despite our government’s routine claims to support evidence-based, health-focused drug policy, the Public Prosecution Service of Canada quickly appealed the decision. That means we will be at the BC Court of Appeal defending the provincial court decision on May 26, 2022.
Pivot Legal Society's Staff Lawyer, Caitlin Shane, wrote a letter to the Canadian Minister for Mental Health and Addictions, Carolyn Bennett, outlining how low threshold quantities, if set too low, "will undermine the goals of decriminalization", while also causing more harm to the people who use drugs.