Vancouver mayor moves to decriminalize simple possession of illicit drugs

Vancouver's mayor said there have been over 1,500 overdose deaths since March. B.C. Premier John Horgan has written to the prime minister urging decriminalization of simple possession, a move supported by the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police.

The Canadian Press

Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart says he's preparing to table a motion that would see city council vote on decriminalization of possession of illicit drugs for personal use.

He says the city has been at the forefront of drug policy change and it could become the first jurisdiction in Canada to make such a move.

After tabling the motion next week, Stewart says he'll write to federal officials requesting an exemption under the federal Controlled Drugs and Substances Act that would end at the city's boundaries.

The mayor says there have been more than 1,500 overdose deaths in Vancouver since the public health crisis was declared in April 2016, and 2020 has been the worst year so far.

Dr. Patricia Daly, chief medical health officer for Vancouver Coastal Health, says the COVID-19 pandemic has worsened the crisis, disrupting and intensifying the toxicity in the supply of illicit drugs and interrupting harm reduction and treatment services.

Stewart says Premier John Horgan wrote to the prime minister urging Ottawa to take steps toward the decriminalization of simple possession, while the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police also voiced its support for the idea earlier this year.

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