B.C.’s top court believes tougher sentences need to be handed down to drug dealers responsible for the fentanyl crisis.
The B.C. Court of Appeal thinks the current sentencing range of six to 12 months is just not enough.
Instead, it’s suggesting sentences between 18 and 36 months for dealing a drug with the consequences of fentanyl, noting the “moral culpability” of those pushing the opioid, especially in B.C., which is believed to have the worst fentanyl problem in the country.
The judgment notes what’s now accepted as a public health crisis makes the gravity of dealing fentanyl far worse than trafficking other drugs, like heroin and cocaine.
LISTEN: Pivot Legal Society Drug Policy Campainger Caitlin Shane on tougher penalties for fentanyl dealers
But not everyone is on board with the idea.
Drug policy Campaigner Caitlin Shane with the Pivot Legal Society says it may not work to curb the problem.
“Historically, harsher sentences have proven to be pretty ineffective at deterring drug consumption and production and problematic drug use.”
Speaking on the Simi Sara show, Shane says it’s a misguided approach.
“We have commitments from the federal government that we need to treat drug use as a public health issue and not a criminal justice one.”
Shane says other avenues need to be considered seriously, such as expanding heroin-assisted treatment, something top health officials have recommended in the past.
But Vancouver Police won’t say if they back the change or not.
But Staff Sergeant Randy Fincham says anything that curbs the fentanyl epidemic helps.
“Anything that can be done to slow the number of deaths that we’ve seen as the result of the consumption of fentanyl, the selling of fentanyl, the importation of fentanyl, that’s all moving in the right direction to hopefully end the crisis that we see ourselves in right now.”
Last year saw a record number of drug overdose deaths in B.C. at 922, most of them connected to fentanyl.