The BC Humanist Association is lending its support to a private members bill that aims to end the criminal justice approach to the toxic drug and overdose crisis.
Bill C-216, introduced by Courtenay-Alberni Member of Parliament Gord Johns, would decriminalize simple possession of drugs, allow for the expungement of criminal records for people convicted of simple possession and require a health-based National Strategy to the toxic drug crisis based on a regulated safer supply, recovery and harm reduction services and public awareness campaigns.
In accepting the invitation to endorse the bill, Ian Bushfield, Executive Director of the BCHA, wrote to Johns saying:
The War on Drugs has failed. The historic approach of treating drug use as a moral failing is rooted in Christian supremacy and undermines the personal autonomy, liberty and dignity of people who use drugs and substances. Criminalization further exacerbates these harms by violating fundamental principles of justice and wasting public resources. It's well documented that these impacts are disproportionately felt by racialized and Indigenous communities.
The BCHA endorsed decriminalizing personal possession of drugs in 2018 and called for evidence and human rights informed approaches to drug policy.
BCHA President JB Bell said:
Humanism of course supports a rational, evidence-based approach. All the credible evidence shows that drug policy based on punishment does not work and in fact makes things much worse. This could also be a positive step towards safe supply, which would save literally thousands of lives in BC alone.
The BCHA joins a growing list of local governments, community organizations and advocacy groups that have endorsed the Bill.
MPs are currently debating the bill at second reading. Supporters can email or call their their MP asking them to support Bill C-216 when it comes up for a vote on June 1, 2022. Find your MP.