The House of Representatives will soon vote on the decriminalization of hard drugs

After submitting a project on the subject in the fall, the NDP launched a campaign to pressure elected officials to support the decriminalization of possession and use of hard drugs in the country.

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It’s about “tackling drug use from a health perspective rather than a fair one,” New Democrat Alexandre Boulerice said in an interview with Qub Radio on Monday morning.

If simple possession for personal use were diverted from the justice system into the hands of health workers, drug importation and trafficking would still be a criminal matter.

Finally, the initiative is a way to reduce mortality resulting from the use of these drugs.

According to federal health data, between January 2016 and September 2021, the opioid crisis claimed 26,690 lives that “appeared to be related to opioid intoxication.”

In comparison, COVID-19 has claimed nearly 40,000 lives since arriving in Canada in early 2020.

For people who use these drugs, “it is difficult to ask for help when they feel they are being punished and then taken to court for using,” the MP continued.

Decriminalizing hard drugs is not necessarily on the agenda of Justin Trudeau’s government, but the latter has shown some openness in recent years.

The prime minister said in an interview with CityNews that the government is examining “where to do it, whether it should be done and how to do it in partnership with the provinces”.

“It’s not going to be about the federal government doing anything without making sure there is support on the ground in the communities and in the provinces,” Mr. Trudeau said in December.

City of Montreal elected officials passed a motion in January 2021 calling on the federal government to decriminalize hard drugs. Other cities in Canada, including Toronto and Edmonton, have taken a similar view.

British Columbia, where the opioid crisis is most acute, was the first province to do so in late 2021.

Could the recent alliance between the NDP and the Liberal Party tip the scales in favor of Bill C-216?

“We don’t know,” said Alexandre Boulerice. “[…] We want to put pressure on Liberal MPs to make sure they are doing the right thing and voting to decriminalize simple drug possession.

The idea is not in the terms of the agreement.

Elected officials must rule on the issue before the end of Parliament’s scheduled session on June 23.

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