Federal government rejects Toronto’s request for drug decriminalization

The federal government has rejected a request from Toronto to decriminalize the possession of small quantities of drugs for personal use after an increasingly bitter public spat over the city’s ask.

On Friday afternoon, Health Canada issued a statement confirming the request had been refused, something the Ontario provincial government asked the federal body to do on Thursday.

Federal Minister of Mental Health and Addiction Ya’ara Saks turned down the bid roughly two years after it was first filed.“Today, Minister Saks has refused the request, as proposed from Toronto Public Health, to decriminalize personal possession of controlled drugs and substances for people in Toronto,” the statement read.

“She has determined that it does not adequately protect public health and maintain public safety. This includes concerns with feasibility and ability for law enforcement to implement the proposed model, protection of youth, and lack of support from key players including the Province of Ontario.”Health Canada said it “remains committed to addressing substance use and addiction as a health issue,” and would partner with other levels of government to reduce harm.

Ontario warned Toronto Public Health on Thursday to drop its decriminalization application and said there were “no circumstances” it would support it.

Health Minister Sylvia Jones and Solicitor General Michael Kerzner wrote a letter to de Villa on Thursday that said the province is “100 per cent opposed” to Toronto’s more than two-year-old application.

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