A man holds a sign during a protest against the proposed Vancouver Model for illicit drug decriminalization, in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, on May 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

A man holds a sign during a protest against the proposed Vancouver Model for illicit drug decriminalization, in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, on May 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Vancouver sends drug decriminalization pitch to Health Canada for federal review

“Vancouver Model” proposes personal possession threshold levels for 15 common substances

The City of Vancouver says it has submitted its final proposal for decriminalization of simple possession of drugs to Health Canada, making it the first jurisdiction in the country to apply for such an exemption for federal drug laws.

The city says in a statement the so-called “Vancouver Model” proposes personal possession threshold levels for 15 common substances and would lead to a dramatic reduction in seizure by police.

The news comes the same day the BC Coroners’ Service said 176 British Columbians died from toxic illicit drugs in April, bringing the total number of deaths this year to 680.

Vancouver’s decriminalization pitch has faced criticism from drug users who say the proposed possession thresholds are too low and their input hasn’t been taken seriously.

Board members of the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users have said the thresholds will increase users’ interactions with both drug dealers and police, and could prompt producers to make even stronger and more dangerous drugs.

Ted Bruce, public health consultant for the city, said the proposed thresholds in the submission are only a starting point.

“We anticipate that they will evolve as further data becomes available and increased consultation with people with lived experience occurs to make sure the Vancouver Model achieves its goal of reducing stigma, reducing risk, and connecting people to care,” Bruce says in the statement.

The City of Vancouver, the Vancouver Police Department, and the office of Vancouver Coastal Health’s chief medical health officer have worked together to determine initial drug thresholds based on science and research, the city says.

Under the proposal, individuals found in possession of less than the threshold amount of a drug would not face criminal sanctions or administrative or financial penalties.

Instead, the city says the model stresses voluntary referrals and contact by health-care workers, not police.

The B.C. government has also said it plans to apply for a federal exemption to decriminalize personal possession of drugs across the province.

—The Canadian Press

RELATED: B.C. marks 14th month of 100+ deaths as 176 people fatally overdose in April

Decriminalize possessionDrugsLaw and justice

Just Posted

Trees blown over by a windstorm in forest owned by Anderson Creek Timber. Photo: Anderson Creek Timber
Timber company logging near Nelson raises local concerns

Anderson Creek Timber owns 600 hectares of forest adjacent to the city

FILE – Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, takes part in an event on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous Peoples Day must be a ‘call to action’, says Assembly of First Nations chief

Discovery of children at Kamloops residential school site must lead to change, Perry Bellegarde says

Waneta Manor is located on Laburnum Drive in Trail. Photo: Sheri Regnier
Senior dies as Trail tenants continue wait for broken elevator to be fixed

The elevator in Waneta Manor has been out of commission since February

Area A Director Ali Grieve (right), Village of Fruitvale Mayor Steve Morissette (front), and Village of Montrose Mayor Mike Walsh (left) held a congratulatory ceremony for Beaver Valley students who are part of the Class of 2021 graduates of J. L. Crowe Secondary at Beaver Creek Park on Thursday. Photo: Jim Bailey
Beaver Valley Grads of 2021

Beaver Valley mayors, RDKB Area A director celebrate their 2021 graduates with gift ceremony

Adrian Moyls is the Selkirk College Class of 2021 valedictorian and graduate of the School of Health and Human Services. Photo: Submitted
Selkirk College valedictorian proves mettle in accomplishment

Adrian Moyls is a graduate of the School of Health and Human Services

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

The Coquihalla Lakes washroom is getting upgrades. (Submitted)
Coquihalla to get upgrades to aging washrooms

The Ministry of Transportation is providing $1 million in funding to upgrade 3 rest areas

The Sacred Hearts church on PIB land burned Monday morning. (Theresa May Jack/Facebook)
Two churches on First Nation land in South Okanagan burn to the ground

Sacred Hearts church on Penticton Indian Band land was reduced to rubble

Tl’etinqox-lead ceremony at the site of the former St. Joseph’s Mission in Williams Lake, B.C., June 18, 2021. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
‘We are all one people’: Honouring residential school victims and survivors

Love, support and curiousity: Canadians urged to learn about residential schools and their impact

Indigenous rights and climate activists gathered outside Liberty Mutual’s office in Vancouver to pressure the insurance giant to stop covering Trans Mountain. (Photo by Andrew Larigakis)
Activists work to ensure Trans Mountain won’t get insurance

Global campaign urging insurance providers to stay away from Canadian pipeline project

In the first election with public money replacing corporate or union donations, B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson, B.C. Greens leader Sonia Furstenau and B.C. NDP leader John Horgan take part in election debate at the University of B.C., Oct. 13, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS)
B.C. MLAs ponder 2022 ‘sunset’ of subsidy for political parties

NDP, B.C. Fed call for increase, B.C. Liberals have no comment

Investigators use a bucket to help recover human remains at a home burned in the Camp fire, Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018, in Magalia, Calif. Many of the missing in the deadly Northern California wildfire are elderly residents in Magalia, a forested town of about 11,000 north of the destroyed town of Paradise. (AP Photo/John Locher)
‘Forever War’ with fire has California battling forests instead

Five of the state’s largest-ever blazes seared California last year, as authorities tackle prevention

Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto and IOC President Thomas Bach, on a screen, speak during a five=party online meeting at Harumi Island Triton Square Tower Y in Tokyo Monday, June 21, 2021. The Tokyo Olympics will allow some local fans to attend when the games open in just over a month, Tokyo organizing committee officials and the IOC said on Monday. (Rodrigo Reyes Marin/Pool Photo via AP)
Tokyo Olympics to allow Japanese fans only, with strict limits

Organizers set a limit of 50% capacity — up to a maximum of 10,000 fans

Most Read