decriminalization drugs

Toronto set to ask Health Canada to decriminalize all drugs for personal use

The City of Toronto is moving ahead with its plan to decriminalize all street drugs in quantities considered to be for personal use only, and is now one step closer to issuing a formal request on the matter to Health Canada.

It's been months since Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa penned a report recommending the move, suggesting that the city apply for an exemption under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, as Vancouver likewise did in June in an attempt to turn a controversially police-based approach to drug addiction into one rooted in public health.

The idea is to introduce an alternative model to tackling drug use in the city with the help of relevant stakeholders, including agencies individuals that have firsthand experience with drug use, especially those demographics most likely to be criminalized for it.

All residents have also been able to share their feelings on the topic through an online survey, which closes at 11:59 p.m. Monday, after which city staff and a working group comprised of 25 organizations will have the last bit of information they need to prepare their final submission of a "Toronto model" and strategy to Ottawa.

Along with severe spikes of other mental health issues and emergencies, the opioid crisis has grown far worse nationwide over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, with more than double the number of non-fatal overdose calls in Toronto in August 2021 than the same month last year (per the CBC) despite the worst of lockdown being over.

In 2020 overall, Ontario saw 60 per cent more fatal overdoses than the year prior, which has led to renewed calls for decriminalization — federal prosecutors were this time last year directed to only prosecute drug possession cases if they believed that public safety was a concern, and more and more drug possession charges are now being dropped provincewide.

Lead photo by

A Great Capture

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