Public health director wants Montreal to decriminalize illicit drugs

Jun 9 2022, 1:50 pm

The Public Health Director of Montreal wants the city to decriminalize small amounts of illicit drugs in the city, as early as next year.

Dr. Mylène Drouin says she wants the city to follow British Columbia’s lead, allowing adults to possess small quantities of certain drugs without facing criminal charges.

At the beginning of June, the feds okayed BC adults the ability to possess up to 2.5 grams of cocaine, opioids, methamphetamine, and MDMA. The decriminalization within the province will go into effect as of January 31, 2023.

Drouin says the act is needed throughout Montreal and would allow users to consume drugs in a “safe, better supervised context” while avoiding “all the harm associated with judicialization.”

Drouin says one person dies every day in Quebec from a drug overdose.

BC says the decriminalization is a direct response to a surge in drug overdoses throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The province expects 2,224 people died in suspected drug overdoses in 2021 alone.

Drouin says Montreal saw a 25% spike in overdose deaths since the pandemic began. Nationwide, nearly 26,000 Canadians died from opioid-related overdoses between September 2016 and September 2021.

In response, Premier François Legault said he didn’t think decriminalization of drugs was necessary in Quebec. Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante disagreed, saying the city has always been sensitive to people suffering from drug addictions.

Plante says she wants to “put the right tools together to support these people while ensuring our communities are safe for everybody.”

With files from Daily Hive’s Megan Devlin

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