Vancouver decision to decriminalise heroin ‘wrought with consequences’


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Vancouver’s plan to decriminalise hard drugs could be “wrought with consequences”, according to a doctor. The city has decriminalised 2.5 grams of heroin, crack cocaine, fentanyl, meth and ecstasy despite 11,000 overdose deaths since 2016.

The move, backed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, aims to tackle the city’s drug problem through a public health lens as opposed to going through the criminal justice system.

“This is a very bold move for Canada. They are not the first to come up with this idea, though. The premise is that the idea of ‘exclusivity’ somehow sparks interest in taking drugs. Nonetheless, hard drugs are dangerous substances to allow in our society,” said Dr Kash Yap MD, a primary care physician.

However, this bold plan could come with “consequences” for the community associated with hard drug use.

Dr Yap added: “From the public health perspective, making hard substances accessible is wrought with consequences. Narcotics are very habit-forming and even little amounts make you crave for more.”

“The health effects of narcotics are devastating. It ranges from infections, mental health conditions, HIV/AIDS and deaths from overdose.”

However, if the approach does succeed, it could change the way countries around the world seek to tackle drug abuse and addiction.

“On the other hand, their success may herald a different perspective to combatting this social issue,” said Dr Yap.

Data released Tuesday showed that their were 2,272 deaths in the province – British Colombia – which were suspected to be from illicit drug toxicity, in other words, overdose.

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The plan has not been without criticism in Canada. Jason Kenney, who recently stepped down as Premier of the neighbouring province of Alberta told The Telegraph: “This action will likely result in a dramatic increase in drug use, violence, trafficking and addiction – something that health systems are already overburdened with.”

Pierre Poilievre, Canada’s Conservative Party leader slammed Justin Trudeau of the issue telling him “after eight years you have given in to Canadian cities that are turning into crime zones”.

The law change also doesn’t appear to address the issue of fentanyl. The opiate, which is up to 50 times more potent than heroin, can cause a user to overdose with just a small amount.

Fentanyl is now legal to carry in amounts up to 2.5 grams per person. This amount of pure fentanyl, something which admittedly would be rare to find on the street, could kill more than 1,000 people – according to the DEA, 2mg of fentanyl is considered a “potentially lethal” amount depending on the person.

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