‘Our position hasn’t changed’: Police chief remains opposed to Edmonton decriminalizing drug possession

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Edmonton’s police chief says he remains opposed to decriminalizing drug possession despite city councilors appealing to Ottawa this week to relax the rules.

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If granted, the exemption would mean holding illicit substances for personal use would not represent a criminal offence.

McFee said EPS is working with an academic group from BC on a white paper regarding decriminalization that is expected to be completed in the coming months.

“There’s nothing I’ve seen in evidence to show that this will actually make anything better,” he said.

Mayor Amarjeet Sohi said decriminalization is just one of the tools the city could use to deal with this “heartbreaking crisis.” A record-breaking 674 Edmontonians died of accidental drug poisonings last year.

All council members but Coun. Karen Principe and Jennifer Rice voted in favour.

Also Tuesday, councillors unanimously voted to lobby the federal government on this issue and ask the province to bring in safe supply, safe consumption sites, treatment and supportive housing.

McFee added that EPS “rarely, rarely” seeks possession charges alone.

“We’re not looking at trying to put a person who has an addiction in the criminal justice system if we don’t have to.”

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