Reality Check: Is the Canadian government planning on decriminalizing hard drugs?

Liberals fire back at Andrew Scheer over push to prosecute opioid addicts
WATCH ABOVE: Federal health minister fires back at Andrew Scheer over his push to prosecute opioid addicts

As the Canadian government continues to push for it’s July 1, 2018, deadline to legalize marijuana, the Conservative leader has accused Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of indicating he will decriminalize harder drugs.

READ MORE: Trudeau says Canada not looking to decriminalize harder drugs, experts call that ‘irresponsible’

On Thursday, the leader of the opposition party, Andrew Scheer took to Twitter and said Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor indicated the Liberals will decriminalize hard drugs.

“So which dangerous drugs are you planning to legalize @JustinTrudeau?” Sheer tweeted.

In a follow-up tweet, Scheer corrected the latter part of his post and said he meant “decriminalize” and not “legalize.”

Did Canada’s health minister say this? No.

Petitpas Taylor criticized the Conservative leader’s stance on the criminalization of drugs during Question Period on Thursday, specifically when it comes to opioid use.

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This stems from a recent Global and Mail article where Scheer said prosecuting drug users might steer them into rehabilitation programs that would reduce the risk of overdoses.

She said Scheer’s belief is “extremely disappointing” and “outdated.”

“Our government is actually supporting law enforcement where it matters. Rather than prosecuting those with mental health and addictions issues, we are disrupting illegal drugs at the border and diverting people out of the criminal justice system,” she said.

“Our government is taking a compassionate evidence-based approach to reduce barriers to treatment.”

READ MORE: At least 2,458 Canadians died from opioid-related overdoses in 2016

Petitpas Taylor did not call for the decriminalization of hard drugs.

Global News followed up with the Liberal party, and a representative for Petitpas Taylor said, “we’re not looking at decriminalizing any other drugs.”

Why did Scheer tweet this?

Global News reached out to Scheer and asked him about the tweet.

A spokesperson for Scheer, Jake Enwright said the Health Minister may have not said the word decriminalization, but she indicated it.

READ MORE: B.C.’s addictions minister wants to consider decriminalizing drugs

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“It was how she criticized it,” Enwright said. “The Liberals are trying to muddy the water about what should be done with someone who has an addiction problem.”

He said the indication comes from these words that she used:

  • “rather than prosecuting”
  • “diverting people out of the criminal justice system”

“This would indicate they would support a position of decriminalization,” he said. “They seem to be indicating that in order to ensure addicts are never put in jail, they are going to decriminalize drugs.”

Trudeau says Canada not looking to decriminalize hard drugs

In an interview with Global News in August, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his government would not consider legalizing or decriminalizing harder drugs, like heroin.

WATCH: Trudeau not looking at decriminalizing opioids as crisis mounts

Trudeau not looking at decriminalizing opioids as crisis mounts
Trudeau not looking at decriminalizing opioids as crisis mounts

“There’s a lot of things we’ve done. But we are not looking at decriminalization or legalization of any other drugs other than what we are doing with marijuana,” Trudeau told Global BC’s The Morning Show on Tuesday.

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“We are going to focus on getting the control and regulation of marijuana regime right. And that is quite a handful right now and we are not looking at any other steps.”

Decriminalize versus legalize

The legalization of a drug would mean that you can acquire, possess and use and sell the drug without fear of criminal prosecution. Decriminalization takes away monetary penalties and jail sentences for simple possession.  It doesn’t cover use, sale or storage, for which there would still be criminal penalties.