A timely, insider account of an important and controversial step in British Columbia's strategic effort to respond to the overdose crisis.
Canada is in the middle of an opioid crisis. Since the province of British Columbia declared a public health emergency in 2016, more than 9,400 people have died of drug poisoning in BC--an average of six people a day--with nearly 1,500 apparent opioid-related deaths in the first eight months of 2022.
In Decrim, Kennedy Stewart, mayor of Vancouver from 2018 to 2022, recounts historic progress in addressing this crisis. January 31, 2023, is the beginning of a three-year trial period for decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of hard drugs in British Columbia, a ground-breaking change in Canada's approach to drug use. Kennedy Stewart has written Decrim to tell the story of how this remarkable policy change came about and the enormous challenges faced by those who fought for it--including its contribution to him losing his bid for mayoral re-election. In Decrim, Stewart lays out how ending the "war on drugs" and recognizing the overdose crisis as a public health issue will help reduce stigma related to substance use, increase access to health services, and decrease harms related to criminalization in British Columbia.