Drug Exemption Program to Help People Struggling with Substance Abuse

A new drug exemption program in Canada prioritizes treatment over jail time for those found in possession of small amounts of certain drugs. The intention is to approach substance misuse disorder as a public health concern and not a criminal one. This means, that Canada will temporarily decriminalize the possession of some illegal drugs like cocaine, MDMA, and opioids for personal use by adults in British Columbia (B.C.).

The exemption is intended to reduce the stigma associated with substance use and make it easier for people to approach law enforcement for guidance and addiction resources. Although the substances would remain illegal, adults found in possession of up to 2.5 grams of the illicit drugs will no longer be arrested, charged, or have their drugs seized. It would not apply to airports, schools, and members of the Canadian military.

The exemption will begin on January 31, 2023, and go through January 31, 2026. Police will have information on hand about available health and social support options.  Through these efforts, authorities hope that the offender will see this as an opportunity to get help.

Drug-related overdose deaths have surged across the U.S. and Canada. More than 26,000 people died from opioid-related overdoses between 2016 and 2021 across Canada. Since 2016 in B.C., when the province declared a public health emergency, more than 9,000 deaths have been recorded due to overdose.

Safe-Injection Sites in Rhode Island

Harm reduction strategies are also being implemented in the U.S. In 2020 more than 400 overdose deaths were reported in Rhode Island. In response to this crisis, Rhode Island acted and became the first U.S. state to officially authorize safe drug injection sites or also known as harm reduction sites.

The two-year “Safe Site Pilot Program” designates supervised drug-use sites. Those facilities provide people who use opioids or other illicit drugs a clean, safe environment.

People who oppose the sites say it promotes drug use, however, proponents claim the sites are a way to save lives during the opioid epidemic. Research indicates safe injection sites can help prevent the spread of infectious diseases, reduce deaths, and improve health.

Rhode Island Rehab for Alcohol and Drug Addiction

Adcare Treatment Centers are located throughout New England and offer substance misuse treatment. At AdCare, we offer a full continuum of care to keep you supported and engaged in your recovery after inpatient rehab.

If you are looking for drug rehab near Rhode Island, our AdCare Treatment Centers can help kickstart your recovery. Contact our admission navigators to find the best treatment .


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AdCare has multiple locations throughout Massachusetts and Rhode Island, making it easily accessible to most parts of New England. We offer an integrated system of care and have been helping individuals and families struggling with addiction for 45 years. Take the next step toward recovery: learn more about our addiction treatment programs in MA and RI or learn about how rehab is affordable for everyone.