VANCOUVER — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has closed the door on decriminalizing illicit drugs to combat a national overdose crisis but British Columbia’s addictions minister says unprecedented deaths are a “wake-up call” to reconsider that stance.
Trudeau said decriminalization is not the approach Canada will take to deal with deadly overdoses often involving the opioid fentanyl.
“We are making headway on this and indeed the crisis continues and indeed spreads across the country but we are not looking at legalizing any other drugs than marijuana for the time being,” Trudeau told a news conference Thursday at the end of a caucus meeting in Kelowna, B.C.
Hours earlier, the BC Coroners Service released statistics saying fentanyl has been detected in 81 per cent of illicit drug deaths in the province so far this year — an increase of 143 per cent over the same period in 2016.
In most cases, the synthetic opioid was combined with other drugs including cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine, the service said.