Alberta Liberal Leader David Khan and Alberta Liberal MLA Dr. David Swann renew call for drug decriminalization on International Overdose Awareness Day

International Overdose Awareness Day is a time to remember those we have lost and spur actions to help those who can still be saved. It is particularly significant here in Alberta where we face an ongoing severe opioid crisis.

Swann stated, “Drug addiction and its link to mental health is a complex issue. It is also a deadly problem that is not being adequately resolved here in Alberta and around the world.

“We believe this is a disease, not a crime. We must treat people with this deadly illness and not punish them as offenders. Removing the stigma around this entire issue should be a priority.

“We are again calling for the decriminalization of drug possession in small amounts. This will reduce stigma and better deploy resources now being used to punish the sick. The Alberta Liberal Caucus is appealing to all three levels of Government to support this approach as part of an integrated national strategy.”

Khan stated, “Decriminalization has worked in other jurisdictions. In Portugal, deaths from drug overdoses are three per one million, well below the the EU average of 17.3 per one million. Portugal also saw a dramatic decrease in the rate of HIV infection.

“Drug decriminalization is only part of the solution for addiction and drug related deaths. The Alberta Liberals are demanding the NDP Government boost health spending beyond the current 6% of the health budget for addictions and mental health.

“Too many people are still dying. These fatalities must be stopped. We must take bold action.”