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There is no ‘larger discussion’ on drug decriminalization in Canada: Justice minister

Click to play video: 'Federal government grants B.C. an exemption to decriminalize hard drugs' Federal government grants B.C. an exemption to decriminalize hard drugs
WATCH: Federal government grants B.C. an exemption to decriminalize hard drugs – May 31, 2022

Justice Minister David Lametti says currently a “larger discussion” on decriminalization is not happening, aside from the specific measure taken with British Columbia.

Lametti, who notes the file is handled by the health minister and not him, made the remarks before a vote is expected on a NDP private member’s bill to decriminalize personal possession of drugs countrywide.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the federal government will not pursue decriminalization with other jurisdictions without putting “the system and supports in place.”

Read more: Drug decriminalization unlikely to be pursued by most provinces despite B.C. approval

Trudeau says the government took this approach with B.C. by building capacity and offering many ways to support people, such as projects offering a safe supply of illicit drugs.

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Conservative MP Brad Vis, who represents Mission-Matsqui-Fraser Canyon, says he doesn’t think decriminalization will fix the crisis in B.C. without also improving access to addiction treatments and mental health supports.

B.C.’s three-year exemption from federal drug laws means people with small amounts of illicit drugs for personal use will not have their drugs seized by police.

Vis says the province already had “de facto decriminalization,” in which most police officers didn’t arrest people for simple possession, nor did the Crown lay charges against those individuals.

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