Pubdate: Sat, 05 Aug 2017
Source: Toronto Sun (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Canoe Limited Partnership
Author: Shawn Jeffords
Page: 4


It's time for Torontonians to start talking about decriminalizing some
illicit drugs.

That's according to the city's chief medical officer of health and the
chairman of Toronto's Board of Health. Both Dr. Eileen de Villa and
Councillor Joe Mihevc said Friday that Canada's current
criminalization of drug use isn't working. Governments should tackle
the problem from a public health standpoint and that could mean
decriminalizing some drugs, like heroin, Mihevc said.

"I would support a motion going to council asking that we consider
(decriminalizing heroin) and begin the city dialogue to contribute to
a national dialogue on the decriminalization of heroin and other
drugs," he said.

"After a generation of the War on Drugs ... and their failure to
promote good, healthy public policy, healthy communities, (the war)
has been an abject failure. It's time to re-think that."

The comments came during a technical briefing and press conference to
address a spike in fatal drug overdoses in the city over the last
week. According to public health statistics, drug overdoses led to 94
emergency room visits from July 27 to Aug. 2 in Toronto.

 From 2004 to 2015, drug overdose deaths have increased 73%, according
to the stats.

De Villa points to Portugal where drug use was decriminalized in '01
and that has led to a dramatic decrease in overdose deaths.

"It's certainly something that should inform our discussions and our
deliberations," she said. "Not just here in Toronto, but I would argue
throughout our country."

De Villa said expedited construction work of one of the city's three
planned safe injection sites will begin Tuesday. Mihevc said he
personally intervened, asking city building officials to speed up
permit approvals for the projects.
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