A Canadian lawmaker recently introduced a bill to decriminalize the possession of all illicit drugs.
— Nate Erskine-Smith (@beynate) June 12, 2019
The lawmaker has long advocated for drug decriminalization, arguing that imposing criminal penalties for personal use of illicit substances prevents people from seeking treatment and has contributed to the opioid crisis.
“When you have such a serious issue and a clear policy response that every expert has embraced, we really need to follow the evidence,” he told CBC last month. “Fundamentally, we should treat drug use as a health issue.”
Portugal as example
In 2001, Portugal decriminalized small possession and use of all drugs. Erskine-Smith says the change led to a decrease in teen drug use, drug overdoses and deaths, and criminal penalties dropped by 60 per cent.
A 2014 policy paper by the Centre for Addition and Mental Health confirms Portugal has seen a decline in substance misuse, drug-related harm and a reduction in illicit drug use by adolescents
MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith’s argument with the prohibition of narcotics and his advocacy for a change in policy to one of harm reduction theory does not accurately recognize that the policy that has failed Canadians over the past 10 years,” Pamela McColl of Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) argues