Toronto updated its 14-month-old decriminalization request to the federal government Friday, clarifying it wants a Health Canada exemption to cover young people as well as adults, and all drugs for personal use.
The city’s submission, an update to its initial January 2022 request, indicates Toronto wants the federal agency to go further than the exemption it recently granted to British Columbia under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.
It makes clear the city wants its exemption to apply to all drugs for personal use and shield young people from criminalization, a departure from the B.C. exemption, which only applies to adults and lists a select number of substances.
Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa says the submission sent to Health Canada, co-signed by the city’s police chief and city manager, is a “made-in-Toronto” model reflective of a months-long consultation process.
“We’re talking about a matter of health and a matter of human rights, not one that really is meant to be addressed or is best addressed with a criminal justice approach,” she said in an interview. “That’s why we’re pursuing this route.”
B.C.’s three-year exemption under the Act was granted in June and came into force Jan. 31. While that exemption caps possession at 2.5 grams, the Toronto submission does not outline a specific threshold for what constitutes personal use.
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