For Your Consideration - Thom Barker

For Your Consideration - Thom Barker

Enough is enough; people are dying out there

Thom argues its time to stop dragging our feet on decriminalization of drug possession and use

Enough is enough.

1,746.

4.7 per day.

A 74 per cent increase.

It cannot be stressed enough that those statistics represent people who died in British Columbia in 2020 from illicit drug overdoses.

People.

Each one with parents, grandparents, siblings, cousins, friends, acquaintances.

And a similar story is playing out across the country.

Why?

It doesn’t matter why.

What matters is that we somehow manage to summon the political will to do something about it.

People who work with the people who are out there dying every single day are understandably frustrated that the obvious solution is to finally stop dragging our feet and decriminalize the possession and use of controlled substances, provide a safe supply and start saving lives.

Is it a perfect solution?

Of course not; there is no such thing.

We will never completely stem the illegal trade.

We will never get to zero overdose deaths.

But the status quo is simply and unbearably unacceptable.

One word to the naysayers: Portugal.

Look it up.

Yes, COVID-19 has exacerbated the situation, but that’s not all there is to it.

The numbers have been going up for years.

The illicit drug supply continues to get more toxic.

And the pandemic is certainly not an excuse for inaction.

In April, Dr. Bonnie Henry, the province’s provincial health officer released a report entitled “Stopping the Harm.”

Its single recommendation?

Decriminalize.

498.

5.5 per day.

That’s the first three months of this year.

What are we waiting for?

Apparently, Health Canada.

In February, the province applied for an exemption from Health Canada that would allow it to decriminalize.

158

That’s the number for March.

On April 14, Victoria announced it is working on an agreement with the feds.

181 (extrapolated from daily rate).

Enough is enough.

READ MORE: B.C. overdose deaths still rising 5 years after public health emergency declared

READ MORE: Vancouver mayor says there’s no time to redo details of drug decriminalization plan