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To Decriminalize or Not

The OACP received many media inquiries for the Ontario’s police leaders views on the decriminalization of the use of all drugs for personal use as advocated by the City of Toronto’s Chief Medical Officer (CMO). The OACP has not been directly contacted by Toronto’s CMO about this issue. However, Ontario’s police leaders understand the significant health-related issues associated with the personal use of drugs, especially as they relate to overdoses or contaminated drugs.

The use of any drug by an individual who then operates a motor vehicle while impaired (thus putting others at considerable risk) and the reality of organized crime organizations’ involvement in the illegal distribution of drugs are issues we as police leaders will always have strong and clear positions on.   However, the decriminalization advocated this week involves personal use and primarily self-harm crimes.

Police leaders see this issue primarily as a health rather than law enforcement issue. Thus, much work needs to be done with the medical community and public policy makers to consider the implications of decriminalizing all illegal drugs for personal consumption, including public safety impacts. The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police as well as a number of our OACP committees are and will be doing work on this issue, particularly as some federal political parties have indicated their support for moving in this direction.

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