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Furstenau: Decriminalization approved in B.C.

May 31, 2022

VICTORIA, B.C. – Today, the federal and provincial governments announced that British Columbia’s request for an exemption to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act was approved, enabling decriminalization of personal possession of opioids, cocaine, methamphetamine and MDMA up to 2.5 g. Sonia Furstenau, leader of the B.C. Greens and MLA for Cowichan Valley, has issued the following statement: 

"I applaud the provincial and federal governments for decriminalizing personal possession of drugs in British Columbia. This is a step that has been called for by the Provincial Health Officer since 2019. The BC Coroners Death Review Panel made it clear that decriminalization is needed so that people can access services without stigma. Decriminalization opens the door to further drug policy reforms necessary for reducing the harms and death toll of the toxic drug supply.

“British Columbia requested a limit for personal possession of 4.5 g, which was already criticized by health experts and advocates for being too low based on data and evidence. The federal government approved a limit of 2.5 g. The intent of decriminalization is to reduce stigma, but when possession limits are low it can result in higher potency of drugs, potentially causing more harm and fear of seeking help.

“While the door has been opened on decriminalization, we need to be looking ahead at how to improve drug policies generally. As has been said, this is a floor, not a ceiling. This exemption will expire on January 31, 2026, at which the province will need to reapply. I encourage the Province to advocate for an increase of the threshold for possession at their earliest opportunity. 

“It is also important to note that decriminalization alone will not save lives. We need to rapidly increase and expand regulated safe supply, and do it outside of a prescriber model.”

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Media contact
JoJo Beattie
Press Secretary
B.C. Green Caucus
+1 250-882-6187 | [email protected]

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