Submission to the City of Vancouver: Mayor Stewart’s motion to decriminalize personal possession of controlled substances in Vancouver

The HIV Legal Network wishes to express our support for Mayor Stewart’s motion to direct “the City of Vancouver to write to the federal Ministers of Health, Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, and Justice and Attorney General to request a federal exemption from the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act to decriminalize personal possession of illicit substances within the City’s boundaries for medical purposes, in order to address urgent public health concerns caused by the overdose crisis and COVID-19.”

As you may know, in May of this year, the HIV Legal Network, Pivot Legal Society and the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition called on the federal government to exercise its section 56 exemption power to decriminalize simple drug possession — a call that has been endorsed by more than 170 civil society organizations to date. We reiterate our support for this particular route to effectively decriminalize simple drug possession: one that is simple, straightforward, and can be undertaken immediately.