Ontario health official: Decriminalize all drugs

11 Julio, 2018, 16:57 | Author: Earnest Bishop
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Toronto's chief medical officer is calling for the decriminalization - and potential legalization - of all drugs for personal use as a way to curb rising opioid-related deaths and overdoses.

"While considerable work has been done, the situation remains urgent and too many people are still dying", said De Villa in a statement.

In a report released Monday, Medical Officer of Health Eileen de Villa recommended the federal government scale up harm-prevention strategies, including the removal of legal penalties for small amounts of drugs, and convene a task force to look at the possibility of regulating all drugs like alcohol.

Her recommendations come as Canada prepares to become the second country in the world to fully legalise marijuana.

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The report, which is expected to be tabled at the city's board of health meeting next week, includes a survey that suggests Torontonians do not believe the current approach to drugs is working. Last year, almost 4,000 Canadians died due to opioids - more than the number of Canadians who died due to motor vehicle accidents and homicides combined.

"Our belief, based on the evidence, is that the criminalization of people who take drugs actually is contributing to this opioid-overdose emergency in our city, because it forces people into unsafe drug practices and actually presents a barrier to those who might be interested in seeking help for addressing opioid-use disorders", she said. It found that criminalization leads to drug users being forced into high-risk behaviours to avoid detection; increased overdoses and infections from sharing needles; the proliferation of the violent illegal drug market; and billions of dollars wasted in police, courts and prisons enforcing drug laws. De Villa's report seems to agree.

This report comes after drug policy consultation done in Toronto found that people are supportive of drug use being treated as a public health and social issue, not a criminal one. There were 303 opioid overdose deaths in Toronto a year ago - a 63 per cent increase from 2016 and a 121 per cent increase from 2015 - according to Toronto Public Health, citing preliminary data from the Office of the Chief Coroner of Ontario.

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