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Edmonton calls on Ottawa to decriminalize personal drug possession


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Following in the footsteps of other Canadian cities like Vancouver and Toronto, Edmonton will seek an exemption to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, which would mean possession of illicit substances for personal use is not a crime. The city will draw on the expertise of medical and healthcare experts, police, families and patients, and Indigenous peoples, to create the app. All council members except the council. Karen Principe and Jennifer Rice voted for Tuesday.

In a second vote, councilors voted unanimously to lobby the federal government on this issue and call on the province to implement safe supply, safe consumption sites, treatment and supportive housing. .

Mayor Amarjeet Sohi said decriminalization is just one of the tools the city could use to deal with this “heartbreaking crisis”. A record 674 Edmontonians died of accidental drug poisonings last year.

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“These are loved ones. These are people who have families. These are people who are Edmontonians like everyone else. They deserve dignity, they deserve to live and they deserve to have the support of the community” , he said outside the council chamber, “But unfortunately that support is lacking because we don’t have all the necessary tools.

“From harm reduction and safe supply, to intervention, prevention, recovery and decriminalization of simple possession, I hope this will allow us to take better care of our Edmontonians.”

Sohi also pointed out that decriminalization is not the same as legalizing drug use.

Discussing the motions on Tuesday, Rice and Principe debated whether or not City Hall should get involved because other levels of government were already working on the issue.

Principe said that with federal Bill C-5 — which would repeal mandatory minimum sentences for some drug crimes and allow for some conditional sentences — the council’s work on this could be redundant.

Drug control programs that would detect if the supply is contaminated are another issue Edmonton is addressing.

lboothby@postmedia.com

@laurby




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