Trudeau's government initially considered to decriminalize all hard drugs, including heroin and cocaine, under the belief that removing almost all consequences for illicit drug use would solve the addiction crisis. But according to an address made by Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Carolyn Bennett to the Canadian parliament, the ruling Liberal Party is now reconsidering this approach in favor of providing users with a "safe supply" of the dangerous substances.
"As in the journey with cannabis, decriminalization still means people go to the street to get their drugs and they are still dying," said Bennett. "I am focused on getting safer supplies to the people using drugs." (Related: Biden's DOJ mulls opening "safe injection sites" for drug users, where federal officials will watch them shoot up with heroin and meth.)
"We are looking at all the international models to be able to figure out what is the best way forward as we want to end this national public health crisis," she continued.
According to Bennett, some "safe supply" programs in Canada need more work. In the current model, physicians prescribe these hard drugs to users as a way to help them "safely" satisfy their dangerous addictions.
The federal government in Canada has turned its attention to illicit drug use following the release of data that shows more Canadians have turned to drug abuse, resulting in an uptick in accidental overdose deaths. The government does not seem interested in examining the fact that the uptick in drug abuse cases began at the onset of Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic lockdowns.
Trudeau's government has already pushed ahead with providing funding to expand "safe supply" pilot projects. Last week, Trudeau and Bennett announced providing an additional CA$3.5 million ($2.78 million) for the Substance Abuse and Addiction Programs (SUAP). This will add to the more than CA$60 million ($47.71 million) in funding the government has already provided for safe supply projects.
The additional funding will go to four safe supply sites in the cities of Toronto, Vancouver and Victoria. In addition, the Canadian government has commissioned a preliminary assessment for potentially expanding the safe supply program and opening 10 additional sites in the provinces of Ontario, New Brunswick and British Columbia.
There are also provincial-level safe supply drug programs currently ongoing independently of the federal government, including one program in British Columbia that dispenses drugs under the basis of a so-called "harm-reduction model."
There is little evidence to suggest that these safe supply programs are helping drug users. British Columbia alone reported a record-breaking 2,224 overdose deaths in 2021, or over six deaths per day. It is in its sixth year of a public health emergency that was declared in 2016, and it is unlikely the expansion of the safe supply program will put an end to the epidemic.
Political commentator Heather Mac Donald of the Manhattan Institute, a conservative think tank, has rebuked policies that involve decriminalizing illicit drug use and legalizing it under certain circumstances, like what safe supply programs do.
"Such use [of illicit drugs] has enormous external effects on society. The more stoned a society, the less it will be able to function for the good of its most vulnerable members," said Mac Donald. "By decriminalizing drug possession, the authorities send the message that mind-altering drugs, which are ingested solely for such mental effects, are innocuous and expected in their use."
While Trudeau's Liberal government seems to be having second thoughts about decriminalizing hard drugs, providing additional funding to ongoing safe supply pilot programs and its possible expansion to 10 more sites serves the same purpose.
The so-called "safe supply" model could even lead to the expansion of drug use in many communities, as safe supply sites all over the country could provide more and more users easy access to dangerous drugs. This is unlikely to serve any positive benefit for communities all over the country severely affected by the drug use epidemic.
Learn more about the misguided programs funded by the government that are supposedly designed to deal with illicit drug use at Addiction.news.
Listen to this episode of the "Finding Genius Podcast" and learn about how opioid use exploded in the United States, leading to a massive addiction epidemic.