Local health officials are looking at some bold recommendations from the Canadian Public Health Association to fight the growing opioid crisis.
The chief medical officer for Muskoka-Simcoe has already endorsed a controversial proposal to decriminalize the personal use of psycho-active substances such as cocaine, crystal meth and heroin. Some experts say that would allow them to focus their resources on addiction and treatment instead of enforcement.
Dr. Fareen Karachiwalla is the associate medical officer of health for Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington Public Health.
“What we know now is that the approach we’re taking right now is just not working and decriminalization and even legislation could have a lot of benefits in terms of reducing overdoses, reducing deaths from overdoses and, very importantly, preventing stigma and social harm.”
Travis Mitchell is the overdose prevention site coordinator at the Street Health Centre on Barrack Street in downtown Kingston. He says decriminalization is a part of a very progressive movement and he’d like to see it happen.
“We’ve always understood substance use and addition through a criminal perspective, so decriminalization acknowledges that there’s a flaw in that system and it takes addiction and substance abuse and it puts it into a health care perspective, where it belongs.”
The local health unit says it will study the issue more before lending it’s voice to the growing number of health and support agencies calling for decriminalization.