Amount of illegal drugs you are allowed to have in BC based on police advice

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OTTAWA-

The federal government’s decision on the threshold for drug decriminalization in British Columbia was based on feedback from police, Canada’s Minister of Mental Health and Addictions has said.

Addicts in British Columbia who possess up to 2.5 cumulative grams of illicit drugs for personal use will not be arrested or charged starting next year.

The threshold is lower than the 4.5 grams requested by the province and has been criticized as too low by some advocates who say rooted addicts typically carry more.

The government has received feedback from law enforcement across the country, including in British Columbia and from the RCMP, Carolyn Bennett said in an interview.

Law enforcement has shown that about 85% of drug confiscations are for amounts less than two grams, she said.

The minister said the government will be watching closely to see if people will continue to be charged or have their medication confiscated if they are carrying more than 2.5 grams.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday that the federal government has taken a science-based approach to moving addictions from the criminal justice system to the health care system, but must ensure the right conditions are met before moving forward with the decriminalization in British Columbia.

“How do you ensure that the police and the justice system are ready for this change? How do you ensure that organized crime does not take advantage of this change? said Trudeau.

Ben Perrin, a criminal law professor at the University of British Columbia, said the federal government was told to take a threshold approach by drug users and experts, and another by the police. .

“They chose to follow what the police told them. I think that’s problematic,” said Perrin, who also wrote a recent book on Canada’s opioid crisis.

More precise data to properly set a threshold would not be the average amount of drugs confiscated from people for personal use, but the average amount of drugs confiscated by drug dealers, he said.

Perrin also cautioned against accepting police data at face value, which was echoed by MJ Milloy, a researcher at the BC Center on Substance Use.

“We don’t know if these figures are correct because, in fact, the police never share their data. And to be frank, the police have a long history of not being open and transparent when it comes to their operations or the data they collect,” Milloy said.

Perrin said he requested data on the number of people charged with drug trafficking from the Vancouver Police Department.

While the department cited 899 drug trafficking charges between 2015 and 2016, only 31 were what would be called mid- and high-level traffickers, he said. “Even when you’re talking about drug dealers, you have to be very careful who they’re talking to.”

When asked what the discrepancy in the numbers meant, he replied, “If you want to show that you’re cracking down on drug trafficking, you better round up a lot of street dealers to boost your numbers.”

Vancouver Police Department data on drug confiscations by quantity for 2019-2020 was analyzed by Erica McAdam, another researcher at the BC Center on Substance Use.

McAdam found that 75% of opioid seizures by Vancouver police came from people carrying about 7.37 grams.

His analysis was based on data obtained through an Access to Information request.

Milloy said that even if the data Bennett cited obtained from police is correct, it still leaves about 15% of those arrested carrying more than 2.5 grams.

“These are the people who are particularly vulnerable to marginalization and criminalization, because they carry more weight, they carry more drugs, probably because their addiction is more intense and they use more at any given time” , did he declare. said.

Trudeau said Edmonton and Toronto have expressed an interest in moving forward on decriminalization, but that the federal government working with the cities will be a challenge “to be quite honest, without the support of provincial governments who are in charge of policing and health care”.

The British Columbia Association of Chiefs of Police was not immediately available for comment.

Police reported nearly 67,000 drug offenses nationwide in 2020, according to Statistics Canada.

During that year, there were approximately 3,400 personal opioid possession offenses and over 6,300 personal cocaine possession offenses.


This report from The Canadian Press was first published on June 2, 2022.



This story was produced with the financial assistance of Meta and the Canadian Press News Fellowship.

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