In the agenda for Montreal's City Council on Monday, January 25, a "Non-partisan motion calling on the City of Montreal to urge the government to Canadian to decriminalize simple possession of drugs for personal use" is set to be debated.
A press release about the subject asks that the City of Montréal "undertake as quickly as possible steps to request a city-wide exemption from the Government of Canada to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act."
In Canada, there is a simple and immediate solution to the harms of punitive drug policies.
Richard Elliott, Executive Director of the HIV Legal Network
This motion is being discussed at a time when Montreal "is experiencing an unprecedented number of overdose deaths."
Last week, a virtual conference was held by the Association des intervenants en dépendance du Québec (AIDQ), the Association québécoise pour la promotion de la santé des utilisateurs et utilisatrices de drogues (AQPSUD), the Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy (CSSDP), the HIV Legal Network, and the Table des organismes communautaire montréalais en prévention SIDA (TOMS) to discuss the urgency of the matter.
During the conference on January 19, MTL Blog learned that many Canadian cities, including Kingston, Toronto, and Regina, have already started to urge the federal government to decriminalize the simple possession of drugs for personal use.
"It's time for Montreal to add itself to this list," Richard Elliot, Executive Director of the HIV Legal Network, said.
Sandra Wesley, President of TOMS, claimed the laws currently in place regarding simple drug possession are "discriminatory and racist."
For this reason, Wesley said changing such laws "shouldn't be controversial" and called on politicians to "recognize the hypocrisy" within these rules.
"It's time to act," Sandhia Vadlamudy, Executive Director of the AIDQ, emphasized.
City Councillors Marvin Rotrand and Christian Arseneault will introduce a motion about this matter of Montreal's City Council on January 25.
Rotrand has stressed that decriminalizing the simple possession of drugs will "save lives in the future."
The stigma around drug use was also heavily discussed during the conference, to which Rotrand added, "it's hard to promote change when people have an idea in their mind."
Arseneault argued that decriminalizing simple drug possession is a "compassionate approach to helping people."
He added that drug use is "a health problem that is often a symptom of factors out of a person's control."