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HomeBusinessthePodcast: Born of desperation, will B.C.’s drug decriminalization be a deadly disaster?

thePodcast: Born of desperation, will B.C.’s drug decriminalization be a deadly disaster?

For the week of Jan. 29, 2023: 

More than 10,000 people have died in British Columbia of toxic drug overdoses since the province declared a public health emergency in the spring of 2016.

Dr. Julian Somers of SFU (

Desperate times call for desperate measures. On Jan. 31, possession of 2.5 grams or less of hard drugs, like heroin and cocaine, will be decriminalized in the province. It’s a three-year experiment, granted by the federal government.

Advocates for harm reduction and safe supply say it doesn’t go far enough. Advocates for recovery, who want to help addicts get off the drugs so they can lead healthy lives, say it’s a big step in the wrong direction. 

Simon Fraser University clinical psychologist Dr. Julian Somers is in the latter camp. He’s Bob Mackin’s guest on this edition of Podcast.

“[Decriminalization] isn’t poised to have a positive impact,” said Somers, founding director of SFU’s Centre for Applied Research in Mental Health and Addiction. “The way we’ve gone about it should, in my view, lead to some concerns about not only increased harms to people who are currently at risk, but the further distribution of risk throughout the population.” 

Hear the full feature interview. Plus Pacific Northwest and Pacific Rim headlines.

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thePodcast: Born of desperation, will B.C.'s drug decriminalization be a deadly disaster?