Premier on board with call to decriminalize possession of illicit drugs

Horgan backs cops on drugs

B.C. Premier John Horgan supports a call by the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police to decriminalize simple possession of an illicit drug.

"Anything we can do to reduce (overdose) deaths and reduce the dependence, and quite frankly, free up law enforcement to do other things, I support," Horgan said during a press conference Thursday morning.

"We need as a society to come together and say we cannot allow our brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, our neighbours, to continue to succumb to overdose deaths because we are not prepared to do everything we can to reduce that likelihood."

Horgan says the province has put several new resources in place since 2017, including a stand-alone minister responsible for mental health, making investments in communities and trying to create better opportunities for people with mental health and addiction issues.

"If not now, when," Horgan added when asked about the remarks made earlier in the day by Adam Palmer, the head of the police chiefs association.

"We're in the midst of a global pandemic when it comes to COVID-19. In British Columbia, that is further complicated by an overdose crisis which saw last month the highest monthly number of deaths we've seen in a good long time."

Horgan says the challenge faced by B.C. and other provinces is that these are mostly criminal code issues, meaning the federal government will have to take the lead.

He says he has made it clear to the Prime Minister where the province stands.

Horgan also pointed to the province's review of the police act announced earlier this week.

He says law enforcement should not be doing work better done by health officials or others.

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