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Public drug use: BC appeals Supreme Court ruling

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The Supreme Court suspended the enforcement of a law on drug consumption in public places.

  • Catherine Dib (View profile)Catherine Dib

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The British Columbia government has appealed the provincial Supreme Court's ruling on the public consumption of illegal substances.

Last December, she suspended the application of the new provincial law which authorized the distribution of fines and prison sentences for people using certain drugs in public places, such as parks, beaches and children's play areas.

Judge Christopher Hinkson ruled in favor of the Harm Reduction Nurses Association, which considered that removing drug users from public places can contribute to further isolating them and putting them at risk. risk in the case of an overdose for example. The decision imposes a temporary injunction on provincial law until March 31, 2024.

In the notice of appeal filed Monday, the province names six possible grounds for appeal, saying in particular that the judge's order was too vague and that the conclusions in his judgment were not firmly rooted in the evidence available to him.

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In the eyes of the Court, the law adopted in November by the provincial government risks accentuating the opioid crisis instead of alleviating it.

In the appeal, the province also claims that Judge Christopher Hinkson relied on opinions for the assessment of irreparable harm necessary to justify the injunction. The province had made the same criticisms of the arguments of the Association of Nurses in harm reduction during its appearance in court this fall.

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The revelation of the appeal filed Monday comes the day after the filing of the report by the province's chief coroner, Lisa Lapointe, revealing that 2023 had been the deadliest year in terms of fatal overdoses, with more than 2,500 people dead.

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avid Eby hopes to maintain British Columbians' support for the decriminalization of illicit drugs by limiting users' access to certain public places.

At a press briefing on Thursday, to explain the decision to refer the matter to the Court of Appeal, the premier of the province, David Eby, stressed that it is essential to approach dependency as a health issue and not as a a criminal issue. This is not a crisis that will be resolved by arresting and then putting someone in prison. This system doesn't improve anyone's life, he said.

It is important to regulate the use of substances such as tobacco and determine when and where people can use substances and when it is not appropriate. And these are the arguments that will be presented to the Court of Appeal.

A quote from David Eby, Premier of British Columbia

But he believes that to ensure the support of British Columbians for the idea that criminalization is not the right approach to fight the crisis, we must also regulate the places where illegal drugs are consumed. It is also important to recognize that certain places in the city must be reserved for certain uses. Bus stops are for waiting for the bus, parks are for playing and business entrances are for businesses to operate, he argues.

He acknowledges that a balanced approach to the subject presents its share of challenges. British Columbians must be reassured that they will not lose access to their parks and bus stops while showing compassion about addiction and its realities.

  • Catherine Dib (View profile)Catherine DibFollow
Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116