Signatories call for decriminalization as a necessary Liberal response to opioid crisis
OTTAWA, APRIL 16 - Close to 200 signatories of an open letter are asking federal Liberal members to decriminalize drug possession and consumption in Canada via a resolution at the party's national convention later this week in Halifax.
The #Decrim2018 open-letter endorsers are personally and/or professionally qualified with expertise on the opioid overdose epidemic, which may claim some 6000 lives this year in Canada.
Signatories include Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson and city councillor Andrea Reimer, Canadian Association of Social Workers president Jan Christianson-Wood, and former Liberal interim leader Bob Rae. There are also twelve organizational endorsements at the time of the letter's publication today.
The letter reads, in part, "We wholly support this resolution and urge that you accept it as a party policy and quickly advance legislation to decriminalize low-level possession in accordance with that policy," adding, "There is no excuse for delay."
The letter cites Portugal, the Netherlands, Czech Republic, and Norway as “examples that demonstrate a truly effective approach to health."
The resolution to address the opioid crisis, to be debated and voted upon at the Liberal convention, proposes, "BE IT RESOLVED the Government of Canada should treat drug abuse as a health issue, expand treatment and harm reduction services and re-classify low-level drug possession and consumption as administrative violations."
Two of the letter's signatories published a Toronto Star op-ed yesterday: Drs. Hakique Virani and David Juurlink noted that, "Canada today has one of the world’s highest rates of drug-related death ... it’s time to acknowledge that our approach isn’t working. In fact, it’s been a spectacular failure."
Of the letter's individual signatories, close to 30% are medical or health professionals; 15% are direct-service or ‘frontline’ workers on the overdose crisis. 25% are academics, or non-academic research and policy development. Five per cent are legal professionals. Over 60% are ‘People With Lived Experience’ – either themselves at risk of overdose, or with family/friend(s) at risk or who have died from overdose.
WEBSITE with open letter text, list of signatories, contact, ...