this misunderstanding that set fire to the powder
Two laboratories announced that they had been authorized to “possess, produce, sell and distribute coca leaf and cocaine”, forcing Justin Trudeau to a “rectification”.
The Canadian government doubtless hoped for better to inaugurate its great project of decriminalization of so-called hard drugs. Matured for several months, the authorization to possess less than 2.5 grams of cocaine, crack, heroin, fentanyl and other substances came into force in the Canadian province of British Columbia on January 31. This three-year experiment aims to fight against the stigma, which would prevent consumers from seeking help, according to the authorities. This is one of the first times that such a measure has been taken on an international scale and Canadian authorities are under close scrutiny. But a controversy is already tainting the plans of Justin Trudeau and his ministers.
Adastra Labs and Sunshine Earth Labs, two pharmaceutical companies based in the province of British Columbia, boasted in a press release this week that they had obtained authorization from the federal public health agency to “lawfully possess, produce, sell and distribute coca leaf and cocaine”. An announcement that set fire to the powder, forcing the Canadian Prime Minister to react.
Justin Trudeau denounced the day after the announcement of the laboratories a “misunderstanding» that he was «rectify“. Adastra Labs and Sunshine Earth Labs have received authorization from the health authorities to produce cocaine, but which, according to him, has nothing to do with the experimentation started a month ago in British Columbia. The two companies have received the license for “extremely limited research and medical needs”. After shedding light on this telescoping, the head of the Canadian executive, who said to himself “shocked», hammered that“there is no permission to sell this on the market and share this with Canadians”.
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Six deaths a day
Both labs have been heavily admonished by the federal government for their “bad communication job“. Adastra Labs and Sunshine Earth Labs have issued a corrective statement at the request of Federal Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Carolyn Bennett. The public denial also mobilized the public health agency which issues authorizations to laboratories. It reminded companies of the strict framework of their license, while threatening to withdraw it if the rules were not respected.
The province of British Columbia is undermined for several years by drugs. A state of public health emergency was declared there in 2016, and since then more than 10,000 people have died from overdoses, the equivalent of six deaths a day. A sign of the gravity of the situation, the number of deaths linked to Covid-19 during the first wave, in the spring of 2020, did not exceed the number of deaths from drug overdoses in British Columbia. “The effects of this public health crisis have devastated communities across British Columbia and Canada“, had declared at the time of announcing the pilot project the federal Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, estimating that “The situation has never been so urgent” than today.
Decriminalization of the consumption of small amounts of hard drugs has already been implemented in the US state of Oregon, as well as in Portugal. In both cases, the administrations declare that it is too early to judge the relevance of the measures. In Oregon, however, calls for help have not increased, the state noted in a recent report. As for overdoses, they increased during the first year of implementation of decriminalization, in 2021. Enough to feed criticism from opponents.