OTTAWA – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is being urged to reduce the possession and use of illicit drugs as a way of tackling the opioid crisis that has resulted in thousands of deaths in Canada.

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Nearly 70 organizations around the country, including the HIV Legal Network, the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association, and the National Association of Women and Law, have written a letter to Trudeau asking him to prioritize drug policy reform. Newly elected liberal government.

They want drug possession to be decriminalized immediately and all criminal sanctions and punishments related to drug use be abolished.

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And they want federal funding to ensure “low barrier access” to the safe supply of drugs.

Nearly 23,000 Canadians died from an opioid overdose between January 2016 and March 2021, and groups say those deaths were fueled by “stigma associated with a contaminated drug supply and drug use”. , which is only reinforced by criminalizing drugs and drug users.

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Trudeau has so far rejected a wholesale monetization of simple drug possession and consumption, although a proposal to that effect was approved by liberals at a party convention in 2018.