All West Shore RCMP officers have completed training ahead of the province’s new rule which decriminalizes the possession of small amounts of some drugs.
Cpl. Nancy Saggar, spokesperson for West Shore RCMP, said the detachment had required all its officers to undergo the training – which had not been made a requirement at the provincial level, with the decision left up to each detachment. Every officer had completed the training in the days prior to the change coming into effect on Tuesday (Jan. 31).
Starting Jan. 31, police won’t arrest, charge or seize the drugs of adults in British Columbians if they possess up to 2.5 grams of certain illegal drugs for personal use.
The rule change will last three years and applies to various different drugs, including heroin, morphine and fentanyl, as well as crack and powder cocaine, methamphetamine; and MDMA (ecstasy).
In the province alone, around 10,000 people have fatally overdosed since the province declared a public health emergency in 2016. Officials believe that this departure from criminalizing drug use will get more people into treatment and diminish the stigma around it.
While the move has earned plaudits from a number of provincial officials and local ones – including Victoria Police Chief Del Manak and SOLID Outreach’s director of programming Fred Cameron – Patrick Humble, community ministry director at the Salvation Army Connection Point Church and Resource Centre in Langford is worried about the potential impacts.
“It’s scary to hear. So we’ll see how that goes,” he said. “I’ve heard a lot of concern around our clients and staff this morning already - they are not sure what that’s gonna look like, but it’s scary.”
~ with files from Wolfgang Depner.
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