Pubdate: Thu, 09 Mar 2017
Source: Georgia Straight, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2017 The Georgia Straight
Author: Travis Lupick
Page: 9


The leader of the B.C. Green party has said that the fentanyl crisis
is a reason for Canada to have a national debate about legalizing
drugs, including heroin.

"This is a very important discussion that we need to have," Andrew
Weaver told the Straight. "If you want to deal with organized crime in
the drug area, legalization is the way forward. But we're not ready
for that here in Canada yet."

Weaver is the MLA for Oak Bay- Gordon Head and a distinguished climate
scientist. He explained that although studies show that there are
benefits to legalizing drugs for both individual addicts and society
as a whole-improving people's physical health and reducing crime, for
example-the general public requires more time and education to better
understand those issues and the controversial policies to which they

Weaver emphasized he would not want the legal distribution and sale of
narcotics to occur without improved access to treatment. He said that
all three levels of government would need to coordinate on
complementary programs that must be deployed in conjunction with any
legal system for the government distribution and sale of heroin.

"In isolation, no single policy like legalization or decriminalization
is actually going to deal with the issue," Weaver said. "Because there
are a multitude of issues."

Last year, 922 people in B.C. died of an illicit-drug overdose. The
synthetic opioid fentanyl was detected in about 60 percent of those

Weaver said his opinions on legalization and his decision to call for
a debate on the issue were partly inspired by Dr. Hedy Fry, the
longtime Liberal MP for Vancouver Centre.

Last February, the Straight reported that Fry wants an open debate
about legalizing narcotics in response to the fentanyl crisis.

"This is the discourse that we must have now," Fry said. "Nobody is
ramming anything down anybody's throats. I'm not saying 'Let's
legalize.' But I am saying 'It's time we discussed this, openly and
publicly.' "

The previous month, Don Davies, the NDP MP for Vancouver Kingsway and
Opposition health critic, similarly told the Straight he wants an open
debate about legalizing drugs.

"I am in favour of starting that dialogue," he said.
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MAP posted-by: Matt