Decriminalization could help curb rising opioid-related deaths and overdoses. (files)

News Views: Health issue

Decriminalization acknowledges that health aspect involved.

After legalizing pot, decriminalizing other drugs is the next logical next step.

Toronto’s chief medical officer and the B.C. Nurses’ Union are calling for just that, to curb rising opioid-related deaths and overdoses.

Maple Ridge’s community action team was granted $100,000 on Wednesday to help fight addiction and overdoses, of opioids in particular.

The Toronto public health board, the largest of its kinds in Canada, will next send a letter to the federal government, urging it to decriminalize the use of all recreational drugs.

Canada is the first major industrialized country to fully legalize cannabis, with recreational sales starting Oct. 17.

Decriminalization of all drugs should follow, just to be practical.

It is a better option than having the criminal justice system address drug use and dependency, by far a more expensive and less effective method.

Decriminalization acknowledges that health aspect involved, that those in the grip of dependency may be ill and need help.

It also helps save lives.

Vancouver’s supervised injection site, Insite, has shown that such facilities reduce and prevent overdose deaths and spread of disease.

It performed 2,151 overdose interventions in 2017.

The rest of the country would benefit from more such initiatives.

As Toronto Medical Officer of Health Eileen de Villa recommended, the federal government should scale up harm-prevention strategies and look at regulating all drugs

Based on evidence, she said, the criminalization of people who take drugs contributes to the opioid-overdose emergency as it forces people into unsafe drug practices and presents a barrier to those who might want to seek help.

Yes, remove barriers, including those to housing, which some of political authority in Maple Ridge are wont to promote.

Drug problems should be treated as public-health issues, not criminal ones.

– Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News

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