What to know about B.C.’s illicit drug decriminalization
B.C. is currently in the midst of a years-long substance abuse crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic has only worsened this public health emergency. In response, the province is greenlighting an exemption that will fall under Health Canada’s Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA). The move erases all criminal penalties for adults possessing small amounts of (some) illicit drugs meant for their own use.
B.C.’s illicit drug decriminalization information
- What: Removing criminal prosecution for possession of some illicit substances
- How: An exemption under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act
- When: For a three year period from Jan 31, 2023 - Jan 31, 2026
- Who: For B.C. residents possessing personal amounts under 2.5 grams
- Why: To help end the overdose crisis
The exemption is set to take effect next year, starting January, 31, 2023 and will run for 3 years through to January, 31, 2026. Illicit drugs included in the exemption include heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine. Individuals with personal amounts up to 2.5 grams will no longer be criminally prosecuted, nor will their drugs be confiscated. Police will provide health and social support information instead.
The goal is to take ‘possession for personal use’ out of the criminal code of drug offences, in the hope that it will remove the shame and stigma associated with substance use. The issue will then shift from a criminal one to one of mental health and addiction. Illicit drug decriminalization is one part of a multipronged approach to getting help to those needing it most and ending the overdose crisis.
It’s important to note the distinction between legalization and decriminalization. These substances will still be illegal. This change simply means possession of small amounts will no longer be a criminal matter. Criminal lawyers in Surrey are preparing for the upcoming changes and will be ready to protect their clients’ rights under the new exemption starting next year.
Bloom Law is committed to working with you to uncover all the details and information pertaining to your case, and will build a defence strategy to achieve the best possible result. Contact Bloom Law to arrange a consultation.