Although the news media has been vocal about the decrease in cannabis arrests in 2016 (even though the decrease is quite small), little attention has been given to the increase in possession arrests for other criminalized drugs. Canada is currently experiencing the worst drug overdose death crisis in its history. Given the extent of the crisis, it begs asking why possession arrests for heroin, methamphetamine, and “Other Drugs” (listed by Statistics Canada as fentanyl, opioid prescriptions, etc.) are increasing across Canada. In response to the drug overdose death crisis and in order to save lives, the police/RCMP should be directing people to drug substitution programs and overdose prevention sites, rather than arresting them for drug possession. In 2016, 73% of all drug arrests were for drug possession.
This report is intended to provide VANDU, as well as other drug user unions and activists, access to the same information and statistics that were provided in the presentation, and more.
By Susan Boyd and prepared for the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users (VANDU)