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VANCOUVER, British Columbia (LifeSiteNews) – Starting next year, the Canadian province of British Columbia will allow citizens to possess “small amounts” of cocaine, methamphetamine, MDMA and opioids without criminal penalty.

On Tuesday evening, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s federal government announced that as part of its effort to fight skyrocketing drug overdose deaths in British Columbia, Canadians over age 18 will be able to possess hard drugs within the province as long as the weight of the illegal substances does not exceed 2.5 grams.

“For far too long, this wave of loss has been a reality in British Columbia and across the country,” Federal Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Carolyn Bennet told the press on Tuesday.

“Today, we take the first steps in the much-needed bold action and significant policy change,” the minister added.

Making the announcement with Bennet was British Columbia’s Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Sheila Malcolmson.

Malcolmson said the goal of the decriminalization is to change “how we view addiction and drug use in British Columbia.”

“The fear of being criminalized has led many people to hide their addiction and use drugs alone. And using drugs alone can mean dying alone, particularly in this climate of tragically increased illicit drug toxicity,” Malcolmson said, justifying the radical shift in policy.

In practice, the new “decriminalization” policy means that come January 1, 2023, there will no longer be any “arrests, charges or seizures for personal possession at or below the 2.5 gram threshold” for highly-addictive stimulants like cocaine and methamphetamine, or for potent and often lethal opioids like fentanyl and oxycodone.

While Canada as a whole has seen a massive uptick in drug overdose deaths in recent times, particularly since the beginning of the so-called COVID-19 pandemic, the crisis has been most drastic in British Columbia and major cities like Toronto.

In 2019, prior to COVID restrictions, 983 British Columbians died as a result of opioid toxicity. By 2020, that number had increased to over 1,500. In 2021, the number surged even further, claiming  2,224 lives.

While politicians like Malcolmson allege the crisis can be solved or dampened through decriminalization, many experts remain adamantly opposed to the idea.

Attorney Heather Mac Donald of the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research told The Epoch Times last year that “such use [of illicit drugs] has enormous external effects on society.”

“The more stoned a society, the less it will be able to function for the good of its most vulnerable members, above all children,” Mac Donald said. “By decriminalizing drug possession, the authorities send the message that mind-altering drugs, which are ingested solely for such mental effects, are innocuous and expected in their use.”

Mac Donald went on to explain that “virtually no one is in prison for a possession of a user’s amount of drugs,” but the illegal nature of the drugs allows law enforcement access to high-level drug dealers. The criminalization of drugs, she explained, is actually a very “valuable tool … to protect the public from clear harm.”

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