Canada is in the middle of an opioid crisis. Fentanyl is seeping in and causing overdoses left and right. Hundreds of people are dying. Obviously our current system isn’t working. We even have a new P.M. Justin Trudeau who is legalizing marijuana. So why is Canada’s response (Bill C-37) to the opioid crisis still rooted in the old fashioned approach of Crime & Punishment?
Let’s take a look at Bill C-37. How many of the Bill’s 10 provisions take a progressive approach VS a punitive approach?
(a) simplify the process of applying for Safe Injection Sites
OK, it starts well. 1/10 are progressive!
(b) prohibit importation of designated devices — as well as prescribed activities in relation to designated devices
We must crackdown harder!! 1/10 are punishment!
(c) expand the offence of possession, production, sale or importation of anything knowing that it will be used to produce or traffic in meth;
No cold medicine for you! 2/10 punishment
(d) authorize the Minister to temporarily add to a schedule to that Act substances that the Minister has reasonable grounds to believe pose a significant risk to public health or safety, in order to control them;
More bans! Because they’ve been working so well.. 3/10 punishment
(e) authorize the Minister to require a person who may conduct activities in relation to controlled substances, precursors or designated devices to provide the Minister with information or to take certain measures in respect of such activities;
More regulation! 4/10 punishment
(f) add an administrative monetary penalties scheme;
More fines! 5/10 punishment
(g) streamline the disposition of seized, found or otherwise acquired controlled substances, precursors and chemical and non-chemical offence-related property;
What were they doing with them before? Resale? 6/10 punishment
(h) modernize inspection powers;
More searches! Less privacy! 7/10 punishment
(i) expand and amend certain regulation-making authorities, including in respect of the collection, use, retention, disclosure and disposal of information.
More regulations! Bigger bureaucracies! 8/10 punishment
(j) It makes related amendments to the Customs Act and the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act to repeal provisions that prevent customs officers from opening mail that weighs 30 grams or less.
Search everyone’s mail!! 9/10 punishment!
So the final tally for Bill C-37 is 90% PUNISHMENT.
Have we learned nothing from marijuana?
We contacted Health Canada for clarification. Here’s what they said about the ‘progressive’ measure:
“To streamline applications, Bill C-37 proposes to replace the current 26 criteria required to establish a supervised consumption site with the 5 factors set out by the Supreme Court of Canada in:
· Impact on crime rates;
· Local conditions indicating need;
· Regulatory structure in place to support the facility;
· Resources available to support its maintenance; and
· Expressions of community support or opposition.”
So unless your local community is willing to vote FOR a Safe Injection site, the progressive measure isn’t gonna happen. Unless your local community can prove that there will be no impact on crime rates!?!, there won’t be any Safe Injection Sites.
The Health Ministry concluded with:
“The Government of Canada remains committed to a comprehensive, collaborative, compassionate and evidence-based approach to addressing this crisis and the underlying causes of problematic substance use over the longterm.”
Seriously? If Canada wants a compassionate and evidence-based approach to addressing this crisis, DECRIMINALIZE HEROIN. Don’t pass a bill that is full of the same old law & order bullshit that’s gotten us into this mess. It’s so ironic that this Bill passed while we are legalizing Marijuana and recognizing the historical mistakes made there too..
Decriminalization has been working fine in Portugal to reduce drug deaths. Nobody is going to take Fentanyl if they can get the real stuff!
It’s time to stop trying to ‘law & order’ our way out of the opioid crisis.