What if Quebec also decriminalized coke, fentanyl and heroin?



Ottawa has given the green light to British Columbia to decriminalize the possession of a small amount of certain hard drugs, such as cocaine, fentanyl or heroin. What does it give? Could Quebec do the same? Here’s what an expert has to say.

• Read also: Possession of fentanyl, heroin and cocaine decriminalized in British Columbia

• Read also: Now is the time to decriminalize simple drug possession, expert says

What does the decriminalization of simple possession look like?

The benefits are numerous, says Jean-Sébastien Fallu, associate professor at the School of Psychoeducation at the University of Montreal and specialized in drug addiction prevention.

On the one hand, we are talking about a reduction in the stigmatization of people who use drugs or who are struggling with substance use problems.

“By decriminalizing people who use drugs, we will end their stigma, which prevents them from having access to services and support that can save their lives”, pleaded the provincial minister of Mental Health and Addictions , Sheila Malcolmson.

“To go from a vision of a criminal to a person who does not have the right [de consommer] but who is rather seen as a sick person by some, it promotes services, which become more accessible, and it makes it possible to hide less for fear of criminalization, ”adds Mr. Fallu.

• Read also: Worrying: more and more teenagers are vaping wax, a powerful cannabis concentrate

Decriminalization also makes it possible to address the overdose crisis from a public health perspective, which would indirectly lead to a reduction in the number of overdoses, he believes.

For several organizations and community activists, the decriminalization of such a small quantity – 2.5 grams combined – is a step in the right direction, but it is not enough.

“It changes a lot of things, but not enough. It does not affect the quality of the products on the market, ”argues the professor. Product supply and quality issues encourage the circulation of harmful mixtures that can lead to overdoses.

Is Quebec also affected by the overdose crisis?

Yes! Contrary to popular belief, the overdose crisis affects the entire country and Quebec is no exception, although to a lesser extent than British Columbia.

In 2021, there were 450 deaths related to possible drug or opioid poisoning, according to data from the National Institute of Public Health of Quebec (INSPQ). This is less than the 547 deaths in 2020, but “it is clearly on the increase” compared to previous years, insists Mr. Fallu.

• Read also: On the ground: 10 fatal drug overdoses every week in Quebec

“It’s hard to assess the extent of the crisis here, and it’s true that it’s not as bad as in British Columbia. But it’s still a lot of people, a lot of families, colleagues and traumatized workers who lose loved ones. It worries the public health departments, ”he argues.

The unknowns who remain around the situation in Quebec also prevent the health authorities from declaring a public health crisis, which Jean-Sébastien Fallu deplores.

Will possession be decriminalized here as well?

Despite progress elsewhere in the country, Jean-Sébastien Fallu is rather pessimistic about the possibility that Quebec will decriminalize possession anytime soon.

“Quebec is the most conservative province in the country on the issue of drugs,” he says. Whether it is in terms of drug regulation, legalization of drugs, including cannabis, it is here that the opposition is the greatest.

Minister of Justice Simon Jolin-Barrette

VAT NEWS/QMI AGENCY

Minister of Justice Simon Jolin-Barrette

The Quebec Minister of Justice, Simon Jolin-Barrette, has also said that this is not in Quebec’s plans in the short term, reports The duty. “Currently, we are already working with the programs that we have [en prévention]“, he added on Wednesday.

And while the Director of Public Prosecutions of Canada, Kathleen Roussel, in 2020 asked federal prosecutors not to prosecute those arrested for simple possession, Quebec escapes this directive, since the province has its own Director of Prosecutions. criminal and penal (DPCP).

“This directive is a decriminalization de factobut which does not apply in Quebec as long as the DPCP, or even Minister Jolin-Barrette, [ne donne pas] the same directive to his attorneys. It was not done, despite several calls from the public, organizations and even opposition parties, ”laments Jean-Sébastien Fallu.

Moreover, Bill C-216, which would have extended the decriminalization of simple possession to the entire country, was rejected on Wednesday by a majority of Liberal MPs and all elected Conservatives, while the government, the the day before gave its approval to British Columbia for its three-year pilot project.

• Read also: Even the police think drug possession should be decriminalized

An inconsistent and hypocritical decision, according to Jean-Sébastien Fallu. “I think we have elected officials, both federal and provincial, who have blood on their hands. Nothing less. Their decision kills people.

Who is in favor of drug decriminalization?

However, there are many voices in favor of the decriminalization of drugs in the province, starting with the City of Montreal, several regional public health departments – including the former national director of public health for Quebec, Horacio Arruda – and even the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM).

— With QMI Agency

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Reference-www.24heures.ca

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