Kamloops hopes to ban public drug use in wake of decriminalization

Apr 18 2023, 6:09 pm

A BC city wants to ban public drug use and the news comes not long after the government announced the decriminalization of some illegal drugs.

One councillor from the City of Kamloops has presented a motion that, if passed, would ban the usage of drugs in public spaces.

The councillor is Katie Neustaeter, and the motion is an amendment to an existing bylaw prohibiting alcohol and smoking in public spaces.

Daily Hive connected with Neustaeter to discuss the primary goal of the motion from her perspective.

Neustaeter reflected on the four pillars of harm reduction in connection with what she calls the experimental decriminalization of personal amounts of certain illicit substances. While she thinks it could be a useful harm-reduction measure, she also says it needs to be supported by the other pillars; treatment, enforcement, and prevention.

“Citizens are concerned about a lack of clarity when it comes to where decriminalized substances can be used, particularly as our cities are already struggling with the realities of open drug use in our neighbourhoods, parks, sidewalks, and other public spaces,” Neustaeter says.

While Vancouver has safe drug consumption sites like Insite, it isn’t uncommon to find someone consuming drugs in public spaces around the city. As part of BC’s decriminalization, illegal drug use is still prohibited on private property, in malls, bars, and cafes. When it comes to public places, the BC government says that it depends on local regulations.

The BC decriminalization website states, “Local governments continue to have authority for developing appropriate local bylaws, in consultation with their local medical health officer.”

Neustaeter hopes that if the motion passes, it will be a “first step” for those who do drugs to do so in safe locations “that are removed from children, seniors, businesses, etc.”

“Additionally, as only approximately 15% of drug overdose deaths in BC are currently outdoors (BC Coroners Service, March 7, 2023), I don’t believe this to be a fundamental obstacle to this practical bylaw passing,” Neustaeter adds.

“We must concentrate on creating and destigmatizing help for those who struggle with substance misuse while also protecting social order for the rest of our community.”

Do you agree with Neustaeter’s motion, and do you think Vancouver needs to do a better job of cracking down on public drug use?

Amir AliAmir Ali

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