BC’s New(ish) Drug Possession Laws

In this episode of Queen’s Law Pro Bono Radio, we delve into the evolution of British Columbia’s drug possession laws. Our host, Herleen Sharma, takes us on a compelling exploration of how British Columbia has spearheaded groundbreaking changes in response to the opioid crisis, a crisis that has left a profound impact on communities across the province.

Through insightful analysis and scholarly perspective, we unravel the complexities of British Columbia’s efforts towards drug decriminalization. From the origins of the opioid crisis to the practical implications of policy changes, we navigate through the legal, social, and political dimensions of this pressing issue. Join us as we embark on a journey to understand the nuances of drug decriminalization in British Columbia, exploring the intersection of law, public health, and social justice. Don’t miss this enlightening discussion that aims to inform and inspire action towards a more compassionate and equitable approach to drug policy.

Herleen Sharma – Producer, Host, Editor

Pro Bono Radio is part of the Queen’s chapter of Pro Bono Students Canada. The Pro Bono Radio team are not lawyers, and this is not legal advice.

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Research Referred to in the Podcast: 

BC Gov News (2016) Provincial health officer declares public health emergency. Available at: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2016HLTH0026-000568

Understanding the Epidemic (2023) Understanding the opioid overdose epidemic. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/opioids/basics/epidemic.html

Hetter, K. (2023) What makes fentanyl so dangerous and how can people prevent overdoses? our expert explains, CNN. Available at: https://www.cnn.com/2023/03/23/health/fentanyl-heroin-opioids-naloxone-wellness/index.html

Overdose & drug poisoning data (2023) BC Emergency Health Services. Available at: http://www.bcehs.ca/about/accountability/data/overdose-drug-poisoning-data#Trends

“Power Bi Report.” Power BI. https://app.powerbi.com/view?r=eyJrIjoiY2ZkZTgxODAtMmE5Mi00MzNjLTlkNDYtMjRhNjU4Nzk2NGZmIiwidCI6IjZmZGI1MjAwLTNkMGQtNGE4YS1iMDM2LWQzNjg1ZTM1OWFkYyJ9

Engagement, Government Communications and Public Engagement. Decriminalizing People Who Use Drugs in B.C. Province of British Columbia, September 15, 2023. https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/overdose/decriminalization

Jesseman, Rebecca, and Doris Payer. Publication. Decriminalization: Options and Evidence, June 2018. https://www.ccsa.ca/sites/default/files/2019-04/CCSA-Decriminalization-Controlled-Substances-Policy-Brief-2018-en.pdf

McSheffrey, Elizabeth. “It’s Been More than 6 Months of Drug Decriminalization in B.C. What’s Changed?” Global News, September 8, 2023.https://globalnews.ca/news/9924506/drug-decriminalization-six-months-bc/

Vance, Emily. “B.C. Introduces Bill to Ban Illicit Drug Use in Many Public Spaces.” CBC News, October 4, 2023. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/bc-drug-use-changes-1.6987330

Xavier, Chloe, Lisa Liu, Heather Burgess, O Kara Loewen, Brooke Kinniburgh, and Alexis Crabtree. Rep. Baseline Decriminalization Findings from the 2022 Harm Reduction Client Survey: Interactions with Law Enforcement, September 14, 2023. http://www.bccdc.ca/resource-gallery/Documents/Statistics%20and%20Research/Statistics%20and%20Reports/Overdose/KnowledgeUpdate_Police_Interaction.pdf

Weichel, Andrew. “B.C.’s Prescribed Safer Drug Supply Saved Lives, Landmark Study Finds.” CTV News Vancouver, January 11, 2024. https://bc.ctvnews.ca/b-c-s-prescribed-safer-drug-supply-saved-lives-landmark-study-finds-1.6722703