Professor Bill Bogart authored an opinion piece published in iPolitics digital newspaper about the pressure to decriminalize possession of drugs for personal use. "The pressure has gained unstoppable momentum," he writes. "It includes a letter signed by 70 prominent organizations, a lawsuit launching a Charter challenge, and the reports of a task force of experts appointed by the Liberal government."
These three developments in the last weeks alone join a chorus of voices urging the federal government to pass legislation to end the criminalization of possession of all drugs for personal use.
The case to decriminalize drugs to fight the opioid scourge is compelling. But if we do, it also means that anyone possessing them in limited amounts won’t be subject to criminal penalties. (Trafficking in drugs would remain illegal.) The use of heroin, cocaine, etc., would be legal and free of sanctions. Are we ready for this? We should be, writes Professor Bogart.
He suggests we should decriminalize without delay — and with our eyes open to all the complexities that will be involved. The problematic use of drugs won’t go away any time soon. We should “permit but discourage” the removal of sanctions, while trying to reduce the damage of any harmful use. All the while, we can be certain of this: Criminalization leaves a trail of misery in its wake.