British Columbia is the first province in Canada to decriminalize drug possession, as of the end of last month which is catching the eye of other provinces.
Currently, the decriminalization plan is being referred to as a pilot, with up to 2.5 grams of Cocaine, Methamphetamine, MDMA, and Opioids (including heroin, fentanyl, and morphine) allowed to be legally possessed.
Currently, the pilot is set to last for three years until Jan. 31, 2026, unless it is revoked or replaced before then.
This has other jurisdictions interested in the effects of those changes - with Saskatchewan also keeping an eye out, explains Everett Hindley, the Minister for Mental Health and Addictions.
"There's been a lot of commentary throughout the media and public whether it's the right thing to do or not—comparisons to other jurisdictions’ models when it comes to addictions and recovery,” said Hindley, “So, we'll be watching it just like every other province in every other territory is in Canada, to see what happens with British Columbia and what they're trying.”
Hindley says that the particulars of how to handle a decriminalization plan are often where a lot of the conversation happens.
"I think that's where some of the source of debate is. Even prior to the announcement by British Columbia, there was some debate before that about the amount they were considering and we all would have seen comments on both sides of the spectrum. Some saying it's too much, others saying it's not enough and I think that's part of the issue here."
Meanwhile, B.C.'s current pilot seems to be off the table for Saskatchewan.
"From Saskatchewan's perspective, decriminalization, like B.C. is going down right now, that's not something we're pursuing,” said Hindley, “It's not something we're considering. We're focusing on prevention and treatment. Of course, there's a role for harm reduction to play, and that's why as a government we're making some investments into that area as well. Specifically, we're really trying to make sure that we're enhancing prevention strategies, but also treatment, and making sure that people have access to treatment.”
Read more about the pilot program here.