It looks like Toronto is making a serious push to decriminalize drug possession. The City has initiated the process of requesting an exemption from Health Canada to allow the possession of all drugs for personal use.
The City of Vancouver made a similar request back in May, which will voluntarily connect people with services instead of taking their substances away and criminally charging them, if it’s approved.
Toronto Public Health (TPH) said in a statement that its model for decriminalization is “rooted in a public health approach” and that the people who are most at risk of criminalization for drug possession are involved in its development.
“The Plan combines the knowledge and expertise of people who use drugs, their family and friends, and people working in the field with best practices,” said TPH.
Ottawa now joins Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal and other cities across the country in calling on the Federal Government to decriminalize small possession of drugs.
It’s time to treat drug use as a health issue, not a criminal one. https://t.co/2TmZji4zpL
— Joe Cressy (@joe_cressy) September 22, 2021
Health Canada will work with TPH to refine the model and hopefully, grant the exemption from the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act to decriminalize drugs for personal use.
“Currently, Toronto Public Health is working with various health stakeholders to develop the details of that submission, which we anticipate coming forward later in the fall,” said the Board of Health chair Joe Cressy to CBC.
“Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, even Ottawa have called on the federal government to decriminalize drugs,” he said.
This comes as the city deals with some of the highest overdose count ever recorded, according to CBC, and many experts seem to agree that decriminalizing drug possession is essential to curbing the crisis.
The City will be accepting public feedback about the plan through their 10-minute online survey until the end of today, and the request will get submitted to Health Canada after that.
The Ministry of Health told CBC that the federal government “will remain engaged with [cities and provinces] to move these health-based approaches forward.”