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Toronto, Jul 16 (Canadian-Media): According to the Toronto's chief medical officer Dr. Eileen de Villa, the Toronto Board of Health, became the first in Canada to officially call on the federal government to decriminalize all drugs, media reports said
Dr Eileen de Villa. Image credit: Twitter handle
Besides removing the penalties for personal drug use, the motion which was passed unanimously on Monday, required the federal government to add more harm-reduction and treatment services.
It should also set up a task force to examine the feasibility of legalizing and regulating all drugs the same way as alcohol.
“I am really grateful to this board for taking this bold step, which is going to save lives,” said Angie Hamilton, the executive director of Families for Addiction Recovery. “It’s going to save our kids.”
During the meeting Hamilton said that addiction was a common illness, and children should receive treatment, not punishment, for being ill.
Other experts who supported the motion, included Parkdale Queen West Community Health Centre worker Matt Johnson, Toronto Harm Reduction Task Force educator Peter Leslie and Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario senior policy analyst Lynn Anne Mulrooney.
Mulrooney pointed out that decriminalization did not address the problem of people dying from poisoned drug supply; rather a fully regulated legalization should be considered.
303 opioid-overdose deaths occurred in Toronto in 2017, a 63-percent increase from the year before and more than double the amount from 2015.
Between August and October, 2017, Fentanyl was responsible for three-quarters of overdose deaths in Ontario .
The move reportedly is unlikely to get support from the new Ontario government.
Premier Doug Ford had clearly stated his personal opposition to harm-reduction efforts such as supervised drug-use sites.
His office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Mulrooney said she hopes the motion will start a national conversation on harm reduction, especially if other nurses’ associations speak out as the RNAO has done.
“I think there’s a lot of nurses … that have already moved for a long time towards harm reduction and supervised injection services, so I think this is the next logical step,” she said.
Hamilton also hoped that the decision could eventually affect the law.
People who use drugs can be seen as less credible, she said, so it was important to have the weight of public health behind them.
“We’re guided by science and compassion,” she said. “And that’s what should guide all of these discussions. And I really think if we did that, we would be saving an awful lot of lives.”