The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP) is now endorsing the decriminalization of all illicit drugs for personal use.
WRPS Chief Bryan Larkin is co-chair of the CACP committee behind the proposal.
CACP President, Chief Constable Adam Palmer says decriminalization can include non-criminal responses like fines and warnings, for those caught in the possession of a small quantity of drugs.
"It could involve a healthcare approach that diverts people from the criminal justice system. Decriminalization is not a simple, singular approach. It encompasses a spectrum of principles, policies and practices that can be combined and implemented in various ways to respond to particular issues, and to address specific objectives."
Palmer says they are making the recommendation to switch to a health-based approach because being addicted to a drug is not a crime -- and shouldn't be treated that way.
"The CACP endorses alternatives to criminal sanctions for simple possession of illicit drugs for personal consumption. In other words, we recommend that Canada's enforcement-based approach for possession be replaced by a health-care approach that diverts people from the criminal justice system."
He says their research has found that a health-based approach can yield more positive results.
"Illegal drugs, organized crime and addictions to controlled substances will always exist. Given this fact, we must adopt new and innovative approaches in an attempt to reduce the number of drug overdoses in our communities across Canada."
As a part of the new approach, Palmer is proposing an increase in access to healthcare, treatment and social services for those dealing with drug addiction.