Toronto’s chief medical officer calls for decriminalization of all personal drug use

Maricruz Casares
Julio 11, 2018

As we get closer to the official date Canadians will legally be able to smoke weed in Canada, Toronto Public Health is recommending the decriminalization of all drugs for personal use.

"Some people who use drugs are more impacted by our drug laws than others, including people who are homeless or living in poverty, people with mental health and substance use issues and youth".

The report comes as cities across Canada rush to implement harm-reduction strategies to curb the spiking death toll from the opioid crisis.

The agency says the city's current approach to drug policy is not working, and the agency is making several recommendations in a report going before the Board of Health next week.

"While considerable work has been done, the situation remains urgent and too many people are still dying", she said in a statement.

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A new report by Toronto Public Health also recommends the city's board of health urge Ottawa to create a task force to explore options for the legal regulation of all drugs.

"Our belief, based on the evidence, is that the criminalization of people who take drugs actually is contributing to this opioid-overdose emergency in our city, because it forces people into unsafe drug practices and actually presents a barrier to those who might be interested in seeking help for addressing opioid-use disorders", she said. Villa made those recommendations to the Toronto board of health, asking it to put pressure on the provincial and federal governments.

The drug policy consultation was completed in response to the growing opioid crisis happening across the country. There were 303 opioid overdose deaths in Toronto previous year - a 63 per cent increase from 2016 and a 121 per cent increase from 2015 - according to Toronto Public Health, citing preliminary data from the Office of the Chief Coroner of Ontario. That marks a 121 per cent increase from 2015.

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