Hard drug decriminalization won’t save BC lives, says recovered drug addict

Former cocaine and ecstasy addict Giuseppe Ganci, now on the front lines of treatment for drug addicts, said British Columbia’s move to decriminalize possession of up to 2.6 grams of hard drugs could save lives. I said nothing.

Ganch, who works at Last Door Recovery, an addiction treatment facility for 13-to-adults in New Westminster, British Columbia, told The Epoch Times that stigmatization is preventing addicts from getting treatment, suggesting that “Weird,” he said.

Under a temporary three-year exemption from Health Canada, the BC government announced that as of January 31, adults 18 years of age and older may not consume cocaine, methamphetamine, MDMA, heroin, fentanyl, and/or morphine in individuals. There is no risk of arrest, prosecution, or drug seizure when used

A January 30 news release Decriminalization is an “important step” the government is taking “to end the shame and stigma that keep people with drug use problems from seeking life-saving help.”

State Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said:

“It’s not true,” Ganch says. “I’ve never met anyone, including myself, who used drugs and didn’t get help because they were ‘stigmatized.'”

He said addicts use drugs and don’t seek treatment because they “like” the drug and “don’t want to stop using it.”

Curtis Robinson, a retired sergeant and 27-year cop with the Vancouver Police Department, spent his days roaming Vancouver’s drug-ridden downtown Eastside with his partner.

He also doesn’t think decriminalization is the right approach.

“It’s the government’s failure to understand what really works,” he said in an interview.

“The state suddenly said it would do these stigmatized people a huge favor.

Stigma doesn’t matter to drug addicts, says Robinson.

“Drug addicts all over the world don’t care what people think. They’re focused on getting high and avoiding the dreaded drug addiction withdrawal symptoms,” he says. .

“Drug addicts focus on one thing every day: drugs. If you’re a cola addict, every 45 minutes. The idea that you’re giving them a degree of dignity is nonsense.”

Epoch Times photo
A woman prepares to smoke a cigarette in an alleyway after using illegal drugs at a supervised outdoor consumption site in Vancouver’s downtown East Side on May 27, 2021. (The Canadian Press/Darryl Dyck)

Evidence, Contrasting Strategies

The Epoch Times asked BC’s Department of Mental Health and Addiction what evidence the state used to conclude that destigma can save lives and prevent drug-related deaths.

“Drug use is a public health issue, not a criminal justice issue. Criminalization encourages people to hide their drug use and often use it alone. and can be fatal when used alone,” the ministry said in a statement.

According to the prefecture Submission to Health Canada October 2021, “Illicit drug addiction is now the leading cause of death among 19- to 39-year-olds in British Columbia.”

“[Decriminalization] We will break down the barriers that prevent people from seeking help and create new pathways to life-saving services,” the ministry said in a statement, adding, “Portugal, Australia, the Czech Republic and Oregon.”

In formulating its application for waiver from Health Canada, BC “considered the strengths and limitations” of these and other decriminalization models, the statement said.

BC’s approach to decriminalization, in addition to the construction of a 75-bed long-term residential treatment facility in Red Deer announced Jan. 16, will include five recovery communities with different stages of addiction, This is in contrast to Alberta, which focuses on addiction recovery and treatment programs. Planned for the entire county.

“Although the Alberta government does not believe in criminalizing health care issues, we cannot simply remove the penalties for misconduct and hope things will turn around,” said the Alberta Mental Health Commission. Colin Aitchison, a spokesman for the Department of Addiction, told the Epoch Times. email.

He said Alberta is “building a recovery-oriented system of addiction and mental health care,” creating more than 9,000 new publicly funded addiction treatment spaces and charging fees for residential addiction treatment. said to abolish it.

Ganci says the home treatment program has turned his life around. He began using alcohol and marijuana at the age of 13, and by the age of 16 he was hooked on drugs. He went through cycles of recovery and relapse over his 20-plus years and was only able to get help in his late 30s.

He said he could die at any moment. It took serious negative consequences from his addiction to finally persuade him to seek treatment.

“I lost my job. [using] at work,” he said. He was able to access occupational health services through his job providing a one-year drug rehabilitation program.

“I ended up getting treatment and it changed my life, but it was because of the effects of my drug addiction, not because I was worried about stigma,” he said.

“Decriminalization does not stop overdosing, it discourages, it prevents.”

Epoch Times photo
A woman sits on the ground after being injected with an unknown substance outside Insite, a supervised injection site in the downtown Eastside of Vancouver, British Columbia, February 21, 2017. (The Canadian Press/Darryl Dyck)

“Open season”

Robinson said BC’s continued focus on harm reduction rather than cure would mean an “open season” for crime in Vancouver, adding that “property crime, assaulting strangers, shoplifting, illegal We expect a surge in break-ins and thefts from vehicles.”

“Possession of five or more half-gram drugs does nothing but increase health care, income assistance, housing crises, property crime problems, and call the police,” he said. .

“It’s a system that absolutely guarantees failure. Under this model, no one can survive, be treated and recover. … Drug addicts are still using the same toxic and dirty fentanyl.”

Filmmaker Aaron Gunn, who produced the 2022 documentary “Vancouver is Dying,” works with city residents, business owners, law enforcement, mental health and addiction professionals, victims of violent crime, and recovered addicts. I spent months interviewing patients.

Gunn told The Epoch Times that both crime and overdose deaths in the state have surged since B.C. began its harm reduction strategy in 2001.

“Homelessness, out-of-town drug use, and general degeneration are on the rise in large parts of Vancouver,” he said.

In 2001, Vancouver became thefour pillarsDrug strategies including harm reduction.The city initiated his round-the-clock needle exchange program, followed by needle distribution, and in 2003 Open Insight, North America’s first controlled injection site.

In 2022, according to According to the BC Coroners Service, 2,272 people are dying from toxic and illegal drugs in the state, with 6.2 lives lost each day. In 2001, he had 272 drug overdose deaths in BC. according to Public Health Agency of Canada.

Gunn said decriminalization would “make hard drug use open. ”

Furthermore, people were able to “openly carry large amounts of drugs, [which] It makes it easier to sell and trade drugs,” he says.

“Finally, stigmatizing drug use is silly and incredibly misguided. will be,” adds Gunn.

“Drugs such as meth and fentanyl are some of the most harmful substances on the planet. There is no such thing as a ‘safe’ amount of fentanyl or meth. ”