To avoid confusion, SD83 would like to share some important information about a three year pilot project being undertaken by the Province of B.C. allowing the removal of criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of certain illicit substances for personal use.
After January 31, possession of 2.5 g of opioids, cocaine, methamphetamine, and MDMA for personal use will no longer be a criminal offence. However, this exemption does NOT apply on K-12 school premises or to youth under 18.
SD83 Director of Instruction (Equity, Diversity and Inclusion) Carol-Ann Leidloff comments there will likely be some misunderstanding about this new legislation and what it means in schools. “I encourage you to be pro-active with your teens about the fact that decriminalization of illicit substances does not change the law around substances at school, and that the School Code of Conduct and District policy continue to apply.”
Some important facts:
- Decriminalization comes into effect on January 31, 2023, for an initial 3-year period.
- Adults (ages 18 and over) at school or on school property will continue to be subject to criminal penalties for possession of controlled substances (i.e. the ones mentioned above), regardless of the amount in their possession.
- School district policies re: substance use and possession continue to apply.
- Trafficking remains illegal, regardless of the amount that is in someone’s possession.
- Why age 18? This is the age when students transition from the Youth Criminal Justice Act to the Adult Criminal Justice Act. The legislation needs to be in alignment with the Federal Justice Acts.
- Students (age 18-19 yrs) are considered adults under the Criminal Justice Act and are subject to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.
For further information regarding drug decriminalization in B.C., please see:
• Government of British Columbia – Decriminalizing personal possession of illicit substances
• Government of Canada – Exemption from the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act
The Ministry of Education and Child Care’s Expect Respect and A Safe Education (erase) website provides students, parents/guardians, caring adults, and educators with information and resources to support healthy and effective learning environments, including how to have conversations about substance use. In the coming weeks, the website will be updated to include information regarding the exemption to decriminalize personal possession of certain substances and what it means for youth.