Health Canada mulls lower threshold for drug decriminalization: B.C. minister

OTTAWA – A British Columbia minister says Health Canada is considering its decriminalization request but with a lower threshold for the amount of drugs a person can carry.

Mental Health and Addictions Minister Sheila Malcolmson told reporters today she received an update on what Health Canada has “on its mind” and the decision is not final.

B.C. has applied for an exemption request to decriminalize possession of small amounts of drugs, in an effort to reduce stigma associated with drug use and help save lives.

Leslie McBain, co-founder of Moms Stop the Harm, said Malcolmson shared the update with a circle of stakeholders this week.

B.C. has requested a cumulative threshold of 4.5 grams for opioids, cocaine and methamphetamine, but McBain said the federal government is mulling a 2.5-gram cumulative threshold.

McBain says this limit is too low because people will have to make more trips into the illicit drug market, putting them in dangerous situations more often.

The office of Carolyn Bennett, federal minister of mental health and addictions, also said the decision has not been made.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 6, 2022.

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This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

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