When British Columbia announced it would decriminalize possession of small amounts of opiates, cocaine, methamphetamines and MDMA, it joined a small number of progressive jurisdictions that have chosen not to arrest, charge or seize drugs from adults with 2.5 grams or less of these substances for personal use.

Decriminalization is part of an approach to drug legislation that focuses on public health rather than criminalization. Instead of treating drug users like criminals, this approach prioritizes harm reduction.

Today in The Conversation Canada, Andrew Hathaway of the University of Guelph analyzes this approach and compares B.C.’s bold strategy to similar efforts in Portugal and Oregon. He also explains the decades of studies and legislation changes in Canada that have led to this decision. “Decriminalizing drug use is the realization of 50 years of policy discussions advocating for removal of all penalties for small amounts of drugs,” Hathaway writes.

Also today:

All the best,

Patricia Nicholson

Health + Medicine Editor

B.C. Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Sheila Malcolmson holds a copy of exemption documents that enable British Columbia to decriminalize possession of small amounts of ‘hard’ drugs for personal use. B.C.’s bold experiment will be closely watched as a comparator with other progressive jurisdictions. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Decriminalizing hard drugs in B.C. follows decades of public health advocacy

Andrew Hathaway, University of Guelph

British Columbia’s bold experiment provides an opportunity to implement more balance in Canadian drug policy, and a more principled withdrawal from the war on drugs.

Chief James Ramer of the Toronto Police Service speaks during a press conference releasing the 2020 race-based data, at police headquarters in Toronto on June 15, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Tijana Martin

The Toronto police apology for its treatment of racialized people is meaningless without action

Temitope Oriola, University of Alberta

The Toronto Police Service chief apologized to the public for the findings of an investigation that demonstrated the Toronto police’s excessive use of force on racialized residents.

A child from the Mayuruna ethnic group stands on a pier on the banks of the Atalaia do Norte River in Amazonas state, Brazil, on June 12, 2022. Federal police and military forces are searching and investigating the disappearance of British journalist Dom Phillips and Indigenous affairs expert Bruno Araujo Pereira. (AP Photo/Edmar Barros)

The Amazon rainforest is disappearing quickly — and threatening Indigenous people who live there

Félix Bhérer-Magnan, Université Laval

The deforestation of the Amazon in Brazil is at its peak, with 2022 breaking all records. Deforestation threatens human rights.

A for sale sign outside a home indicates that it has sold for over the asking price, in Ottawa, in March 2021. House prices and rents have become increasingly more unaffordable in Ontario over the past few years. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Ontario must commit to affordable housing for all, not attainable housing

Murat Ucoglu, York University, Canada; Ute Lehrer, York University, Canada

Canada’s current economic growth model is currently dependent on the conversion of housing from a human right into a financial investment tool, leading to an ever-worsening housing crisis.

Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath wipes a tear as she announces her resignation in Hamilton, Ont., in June 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tara Walton

3 challenges facing the Ontario NDP as it tries to win more support

Sam Routley, Western University

The Ontario NDP is at a crossroads. It has to decide its direction and what role it wants to play in the province’s electoral dynamics.

La Conversation Canada

Le champion de F1 Max Verstappen, de l'écurie Red Bull, lors du Grand Prix de Montréal. L'anticipation est un facteur de performance en sport et peut être caractérisée par une rapidité et une justesse de réponses, et par des recherches visuelles spécifiques. Shutterstock

Champions sportifs : anticiper pour mieux performer

Mildred Loiseau Taupin, École de technologie supérieure (ÉTS)

L’anticipation est un facteur à prendre en compte dans la réalisation des performances sportives en vue des prochaines grandes compétitions.

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