There are no shortage of ways in which the world has attempted to tackle the problem of illegal drugs, with no particular slant appearing to be more effective than another.
Militant anti-drug campaigns often embolden violent drug dealers much in the same way that gun control emboldens outlaws. This is why the “war on drugs” has been routinely characterized as an abject failure in the eyes of politicians on both sides of the aisle.
But, on the other end of the spectrum, there is the idea of removing the criminality from drug use and attempting to transform the issue from being legal in nature to being a healthcare concern.
In Canada, this idea is getting a rather large experimental run.
Canada’s government said Tuesday it will allow British Columbia to try a three-year experiment in decriminalizing possession of small amounts of drugs, seeking to stem a record number of overdose deaths by easing fear of arrest by users in need of help.
The policy approved by federal officials doesn’t legalize the substances, but Canadians in the Pacific coast province who possess up to 2.5 grams of illicit drugs for personal use will not be arrested or charged.
And we’re not just talking about marijuana and other non-addictive recreational drugs.
The three-year exemption taking effect Jan. 31 will apply to drug users 18 and over and include opioids, cocaine, methamphetamine and MDMA, also known as ecstasy.
In the case of legalized marijuana, there is potent evidence for the efficacy of decriminalization, but experts aren’t so sure that removing the legal stigma of addictive drugs such as meth or opioids is going to solve the problem.