Alberta police chiefs do not support decriminalizing illegal drug possession

Speaking about decriminalization, Chief Constable Mark Neufeld, chairman of the AACP, stated simply, “We understand the need to consider every possible option.”

However, given the AACP statement, that’s not an option police chiefs want to consider.

When asked why the AACP is making this statement now, Neufeld says it has received multiple inquiries in the province asking where they stand on the matter.

Neufeld says this issue has been “exacerbated by the drug intoxications and opioid overdoses.”

Read more: Drug overdose deaths soar in Lethbridge this year

“I would say that we are aware of a number of motions from other communities across Canada and are also aware of the discussions that are taking place in our province as well. So that’s an application that’s actually being made to the federal government at the Department of Health, and it’s actually not something that I understand would require a change in legislation or anything like that. It is an exception that could be granted that could make this a reality.”

Read more: 16 drug overdose deaths reported in Lethbridge in first quarter of 2021

In October 2021, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was urged to decriminalize possession and use of illegal drugs in a bid to combat the opioid crisis that has left thousands of deaths in Canada.

Nearly 70 organizations from across the country — including the HIV Legal Network, the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association and the National Association of Women and the Law — wrote a letter to Trudeau asking him to make drug policy reform a priority to make for his new appointment-elected Liberal government.

They want drug possession to be immediately decriminalized and all criminal sanctions and penalties related to drug use to be abolished. They also want federal funds to guarantee “low-barrier access” to a safe supply of medicines.

Neufeld says the issue has been discussed for some time and the AACP wanted to make their stance clear to Albertans.

through Connor Gunn with Canadian Press files

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