Some nations’ drug policies are still rigid, whilst others are so lax that they’re almost falling apart. British Columbia, a province in Canada, has announced plans to legalise heavy narcotics, continuing a trend begun by Portugal in 2001.
What is happening?
In 2018, Canada became the second nation after Uruguay to legalise cannabis for recreational use on a national level. And right now, one of its provinces is making even more of an effort. The Canadian federal government stated on May 31, 2022, that British Columbia would decriminalise heavy drugs in the following year. Adults (18+) in the province will be permitted to have 2.5 grammes or less of hard drugs in their possession as of January 31st, 2023. This holds true for cocaine, methamphetamine, MDMA, and opiates.
How did this happen? It is against general Canadian policy to permit the use of heavy drugs. British Columbia submitted a request for a federal exemption from the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act in November 2021. It asked for a 4.5 gramme threshold, but when it was approved, the federal government cut it to 2.5 grammes.
According to Carolyn Bennett, the federal minister of mental health and addictions, this barrier may become controversial in the future. Bennett described the present cap as a “beginning point” that may need to be altered. 85 percent of seizures, according to Bennett, involve less than two grammes.
According to the British Columbia Association of Chiefs of Police, depending on the locale, the average weight of hard drug seizures ranges from 1.3 grammes to 1.9 grammes. However, if you talk to those who actually take the drugs, they’ll tell you that 2.5 grammes doesn’t come close to covering the actual amount that hard drug users need to use every day in order to survive.
Due of the severe drug problems in the province, the entire policy is viewed as a harm reduction tool. Hard drugs won’t be decriminalised in British Columbia just for the sake of doing so. It is making an effort to appease the rising number of drug addicts who need to use drugs to support their addictions. Many of whom are taking opioids that were given to them legitimately.
Probleme with this
The very fact that this is happening suggests that there is a serious problem at hand. Could the acceptance of such a policy by the government be a sign of some kind of guilt? Governments don’t typically prove that their citizens use drugs, yet that is exactly what is happening now. And it’s not analogous to Portugal, which dealt with issues related to illegal drugs and experienced improvements as a result of decriminalising. The perception that doctors are becoming the main drug distributors underlies this problem. As a government-sanctioned drug epidemic, the current and growing opioid crisis cannot be stopped as long as doctors continue to issue prescriptions, which isn’t stopping.
This decriminalisation has a lot of unsettling aspects. According to Ryan McNeil, the Yale Program in Addiction Medicine’s director of harm-reduction research and a collaborator at the British Columbia Centre on Substance Use:
Two-point-five grammes are challenging to eyeball; how will police officers in the field be able to do so? Does this imply that there may be a method whereby everything above that threshold is interpreted as possibly being drug sales or possession with the intent to sell? We need to ask whether this will actually be put into practise in real-world contexts and whether it would continue the disparities in policing and potential incarceration that we witness, particularly with regard to Indigenous people but also other coloured people.
The argument put up by many people who are now dependent on hard drugs is that the limit itself is problematic because many users need more than this. The strategy, according to hard drug user and vice-president of the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Individuals Kevin Yake, sets users up for failure. He stated it like this:
“I felt that was low at 4.5 grammes. I find it absurd that there are 2.5 grammes. That helps me get out of bed in the morning. It doesn’t really cut it at all for those with greater tolerance levels. He explained that this might affect consumer behaviour and force them to make smaller purchases, which would result in more transactions, more spending, and higher risk. Make sure I have enough for that day since I need to score again because it’s a new ballgame now.
British Columbia and overdoses from drugs
Although the opioid epidemic is frequently mentioned in America, there are actually significant drug overdose problems in many other nations, particularly with regard to synthetic opioids. British Columbia is also not an exception. In order to aid those who are strung out, British Columbia is really decriminalising heavy narcotics due to the high number of fatalities there. With around 5.2 million residents, British Columbia is the third-most populous province in Canada.
Due to drug overdoses, the province declared a public health emergency in 2016. Since then, there have been more than 9,400 overdose deaths in the province, or six on average each day. 2,224 fatal overdoses or more occurred in the area in only 2021. In the last seven years, there has been a 400% increase in the number of drug-related deaths. Numbers in 2021 are up 26% from the previous year.
The fact that 187 samples from overdoses tested positive for the fentanyl analogue carfentanil in 2021, about three times as many as were positive in 2016, should not be surprising. Fentanyl was detected in 83 percent of these samples. 71 percent of alleged overdose victims in 2021 were aged 39 to 59. The province’s three townships with the highest overdose rates were Vancouver, Surrey, and Victoria.
So, synthetic opioids, which are created and marketed legally, are at the heart of British Columbia’s severe drug overdose crisis. This problem with drugs does not stem from the illicit market; rather, it is the continuation of one that a pharmaceutical firm first identified, and which governments have supported by legalising the drugs. Now that a serious issue has arisen, Canada’s greatest solution for dealing with all the addicts it assisted is to make drugs more socially acceptable.
Why is ketamine not utilised?
The most tragic aspect of anything is that there is a solution. Local administrations merely disregard it. Of course, there are many moving parts to this extremely difficult problem. The pain problem, which led many people to become hooked in the first place, the present addictions that have developed and need to be treated, and the difficulties associated with drug abstinence for an addict all need to be addressed. In addition to all of this, there are financial repercussions from these addictions, including money lost to people and taxpayer money used for everything from healthcare expenses to emergency services.
Therefore, whatever that can be used should be used right away. It is also puzzling that ketamine, a Parke-Davis-created dissociative psychedelic, is not even mentioned as a potential remedy for this issue. In America, ketamine (in the form of esketamine) is only FDA-approved for treatment-resistant depression, but it is frequently used off-label in clinics for pain management. It is a Schedule I drug in Canada, which means a prescription is required for purchase.
Since the 1960s, when it was the focus of studies involving prisoners, it has been known that ketamine is an effective pain reliever. It was put to use on the fields of Vietnam because it performed well enough at the time. Because it doesn’t slow down respiration or heart rate, it makes it much harder to overdose, which is one of the reasons it’s a good approach. Ketamine doesn’t actually cause many deaths, and I haven’t been able to discover a data on ketamine-related fatalities that excludes the use of other drugs. Since ketamine has no physical dependence, users won’t get dependent on it and can stop whenever they choose.
Ketamine has already been researched as an opioid substitute in case there is any confusion regarding how it can be used. Ketamine has been determined to be a safe and effective treatment option to opioid therapy in this review of 76 studies. Another example is this study, which involved 870 adult patients who all visited emergency rooms complaining of excruciating pain. The study shows that ketamine functioned as an effective alternative to opioids for treating acute pain.
One other benefit of ketamine is that it has been demonstrated to be effective in treating the repetitive and compulsive thinking of addiction, which is crucial when working with addicts. Studies on people with eating disorders show that after receiving ketamine treatment, the majority of them lessened or got rid of their compulsive thoughts. Something that lasted for quite a while following the ketamine injection. Like other hallucinogens, ketamine appears to have the power to help users break free of their regular cognitive patterns and develop wholly new ones. Although using ketamine has some safety risks, these risks are usually related to how it is administered and do not directly result in death.