Canada: Vancouver Police to Stop Arresting Peaceable Drug Users, According to New Draft Policy

Vancouver police are making it their official policy not to arrest people for quietly using drugs, but to focus instead on those who sell and make them. Under a new draft policy set to be finalized in September, Vancouver police will not arrest drug users who aren't bothering anybody and will instead concentrate on drug makers, sellers, and nuisance users, according to a report in the Vancouver newspaper The Province.

"A person's behavior, rather than the unlawful possession or use, should be the primary factor in determining whether to lay a charge," Inspector Scott Thompson, the Vancouver Police Department's drug policy coordinator, told the Province Wednesday.

"If you're a drug addict, that's one thing. But if you're a drug addict who stands and bothers people, and overtly displays bad behavior, that's going to trigger the next stage," said Chief Constable Jamie Graham.

But police said if they encounter an injecting drug user, they will take him to the Downtown Eastside safe injection site (see related story) instead of to jail.

Other parts of the draft policy include:

  • Pursuing middle-level drug traffickers and those who produce drugs;
  • Looking at mandatory drug treatment and making treatment available on demand;
  • Supporting the needle exchange, the NAOMI heroin trial and the safe-injection site;
  • Supporting more drug education in public schools and protecting kids from the effects of drug use;
  • Using drug courts for drug-addicted offenders.

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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