Ottawa – Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health, Carolyn Bennett, concluded a five-day visit to the United States. During this visit, she heard from government, public health and law enforcement officials, as well as community organizations addressing substance use in Oregon, Washington and Colorado about their jurisdiction’s experiences and responses to substance use harms. It was important to hear the varied perspectives on the outcomes they are seeing following drug policy and legislative 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 Canada’s public health approach to substance use harms, 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 force in January 2023, will allow for individuals 18 years of age and older not to be subject to criminal charges for possession of small amounts of certain illegal drugs for personal use, including Opioids, Cocaine, MDMA, and methamphetamine. These substances remain illegal in any quantity if imported or exported, taken across an international border, distributed, or trafficked.
“Every day across Canada and the US, people die needlessly due to the overdose and toxic illicit drug supply crisis. Our government is committed to exploring all options to inform our response to this national public health crisis, including continued dialogue with our international partners. I am grateful for the many insightful discussions had this week with our colleagues in Oregon, Washington, and Colorado, and look forward to continued conversations on how our governments can work together to end this crisis and save lives on both sides of the border.” – Carolyn Bennett
Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health