Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health concludes successful visit to the United States

OTTAWA (ON), August 26, 2022 /CNW/ – Today, the Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health, the Honorable Caroline Bennettconcluded a five-day visit to United States. During this visit, she heard from government, public health and law enforcement officials, as well as community organizations dealing with substance use in Oregon, Washington and Colorado about their jurisdiction’s experiences and responses to the harms of substance use. It was important to hear the different perspectives on the results they are seeing as a result of drug law and policy reforms, including alternatives to criminal penalties for personal possession of controlled substances.

The five-day visit was also an opportunity for Minister Bennett to share from Canada public health approach to the harms of substance use, including safe consumption and supply, and the recent granting of a time-limited exemption under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA) to the province of British Columbia. This exemption, which comes into effect in January 2023, will protect people 18 and older from criminal charges for possession of small amounts of certain illicit drugs for personal use, including opioids, cocaine, MDMA and methamphetamine. These substances remain illegal regardless of their quantity whether they are imported or exported, transported across an international border, distributed or trafficked.

Quotation

“Every day through Canada and in the United States, people are dying needlessly due to overdoses and the toxic illicit drug supply crisis. Our government is committed to exploring all options to inform our response to this national public health crisis, including continuing dialogue with our international partners. I am grateful for the many insightful discussions that have taken place this week with our colleagues from Oregon, Washingtonand Coloradoand look forward to continued conversations about how our governments can work together to end this crisis and save lives on both sides of the border. »

The Honorable Carolyn Bennett
Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health

Fast facts

  • Alternatives to criminal penalties for personal possession of a controlled substance refer to a range of responses, including reducing criminal penalties, diverting people to health and social services, or removing the scope of the drug system. criminal justice.

  • Worldwide, more than 30 jurisdictions have implemented alternatives to criminal penalties for personal possession of controlled substances to varying degrees, including some locations in the states of Oregon, Washingtonand Colorado.

  • On May 31, 2022At the request of the Province of British Columbia, the federal Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health announced the granting of a three-year exemption under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA) so that adults (18 years and older) in the province are not subject to criminal charges for possession of small amounts of certain illegal drugs for personal use. More information on the exemption is available here.

  • This time-limited exemption will come into effect on January 31, 2023 until January 31, 2026. Until the effective date, the province will prepare for the implementation of the exemption, including training local law enforcement and an education and awareness campaign in the province.

  • Bilateral Canada-U.S. drug policy engagement occurs through the Canada-U.S. Opioid Action Plan (OAP) in the areas of law enforcement, border security and health. In their February 23, 2021 A Roadmap for a Renewed Canada-U.S. Partnership, President Biden and Prime Minister Trudeau reaffirmed their commitment to continued cooperation to address the opioid overdose crisis through the OAP. The plan facilitated increased information sharing to combat trafficking in opioids, including fentanyl and related substances. It has also been a forum for two-way discussions on addressing the health effects and public health approaches to opioid-related harms, particularly in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

SOURCE Health Canada

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