Skip to main content

Saskatchewan not planning to decriminalize drug possession


Saskatchewan won't be following British Columbia's lead when it comes to decriminalizing drug possession.

At a funding announcement on Tuesday Saskatchewan`s Mental Health and Addictions Minister Everetty Hindley said decriminalization is "not on our radar." It was just hours after B.C. became the first province in Canada to allow people over 18 years old to carry up to 2.5 grams of certain drugs.

"We're focused as a government here on treatment and recovery," Hindley said. "Ultimately, we want to make sure that we are providing people with access and avenues to long-term treatment recovery."

As part of a first-in-Canada pilot project, people aged 18 and older in B.C. can legally possess a combined 2.5 grams of illegal drugs, including opioids, cocaine, methamphetamine and MDMA. The pilot project will last for three years.

Last May, the federal government granted B.C. an exemption from the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. Under it, adults will no longer be arrested, criminally charged or have their drugs seized if they’re found carrying a small amount for personal use.

B.C. had originally requested a threshold of 4.5 grams, but Ottawa said it decided on a lower amount after speaking with law enforcement agencies.

Rather than arresting people, cards connecting people to social services and addiction support will be handed out.

In the 2022 budget announced last spring, the Saskatchewan government committed to adding 150 to 200 addiction treatment spaces throughout the province over the next three years. Hindley said the province will have more details on those plans "in the very near future."

"That's what we're focused on at this point and time," Hindley said.

In 2022, a record 421 people in Saskatchewan died due to drug overdose, according to a Drug Toxicity Report released last month. That number has seen an increase over the past nine years.

In 2021, 410 people died from overdoses, up from 325 in 2020. Two years prior, 172 overdose deaths were recorded in 2018.

According to statistics provided by the Saskatchewan Coroners Service, 2014 was the last year the overdose crisis didn’t worsen, going from 88 in 2013 to 85 the year following.

--With files from CTV News Vancouver and CTV News Yorkton's Brady Lang Top Stories

Stay Connected