B.C. rolls back legal public drug use

Don’t do illicit drugs in public in B.C. It’s, once again, illegal. And also, ya know, dangerous.

What happened: B.C. re-criminalized public drug use after the feds approved the province’s request to reverse part of the decriminalization pilot. Possession of small quantities of certain drugs is still decriminalized, but use is now restricted to legal residences and safe injection/harm reduction sites. 

Catch-up: B.C.’s three-year decriminalization pilot began in January of last year. It aims to tackle the province’s opioid crisis by making drug use safer, letting addicts seek help without the fear of legal repercussions, and freeing up authorities to deal with drug dealers rather than users. 

Why it matters: The repeal is a sign the pilot has not gone as planned, with some residents feeling unsafe with open drug use. This high-profile retreat challenges the broader idea of drug decriminalization, even as cities like Toronto and Montréal express interest in it.

Yes, but: Advocates for the program argue the repeal is dangerous without an increase in safe injection spaces, as many of the province's ~225,000 drug users don’t have private residences and will simply go back to using in less visible and less safe public spaces.—QH