The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP) made an announcement endorsing the "decriminalization of personal possession of illicit drugs" and is recommending that Canadian police agencies view addiction and substance abuse as a public health issue in order to reduce the amount of overdoses.
"Canada continues to grapple with the Fentanyl crisis and a poisoned drug supply that has devastated our communities and taken thousands of lives," said CACP President, Chief Constable Adam Palmer. "We recommend that enforcement for possession give way to an integrated health-focussed approach that requires partnerships between police, healthcare and all levels of government.”
The CACP is proposing more access to social services and healthcare to prevent people with addictions or substance abuse problems from entering the criminal justice system. This includes people in possession of small amounts of illegal drugs for their own use.
The CACP believes that diverting people from the criminal justice system would improve the safety and health of drug users and reduce demand for drugs, repeat offences and property crimes.
"While law enforcement continues to be required to stop those putting poisoned and illegal substances on our streets, the traditional role of frontline policing has fundamentally shifted to harm reduction when interacting with people experiencing addiction or mental health issues," said CACCP President, Chief Adam Palmer.
"Frequently, our officers are the point of first contact and the ones who will assist individuals in accessing appropriate services and pathways of care."
The CACP is also calling for a national task force to be created in order to research drug policy reform—specifically section. 4(1) of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.
A Special Purpose Committee was created by CACP in March 2018, to study the impact that decriminalizing illegal drugs would have on public safety. CACP’s recommendations come as a result of the committee’s research.