Leslie McBain reflects on her meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Vancouver on March 3, 2017.
My thoughts on meeting Prime Minister Justin Trudeau yesterday, and his comments the day before: We are all frustrated at the slow pace of action from the government. Our kids and other loved ones have died, we are fighting for change and still, people die. Believe me, I get that. I work with people in BC and in Ottawa who spend all their time researching, treating, lobbying, meeting, talking, wishing, pounding their fists. They are some of the best brains on drug research and policy in the world. They, we, are making progress.
At this point it does not seem possible for the Prime Minister to decriminalize all illicit drugs. I think it will happen in the future because even he, and all people working for drug policy change, know this is the only realistic way to end the overdose crisis.
We do live in a democracy and the populace votes. Most people are still in the old school of stigmatized thinking around drug use and drug addiction. The government cannot act without the will of the people. The will of the people will not be changed until we, people with direct and indirect lived experience, advocates, and experts, work on the destigmatizing of drug use.
One of the points I made with the Prime Minister is that we need a national strategy on stigma. The way to start is for legislators hearing from the constituents and we can work to engage those constituents. Government moves slowly. This means that all the Moms Stop The Harm warriors must meet in person and talk to our MLAs, MPs, write letters, have meetings, talk to everyone we meet on the subject of reason and compassion in drug use.
We can only use the system we have. It is a democracy. I have been working within the system (but not for government) for two years, and we have seen change on many issues, such as Naloxone and supervised consumption services. My experience tells me this is the way to go. Keep pushing. Keep fighting. Keep the faith.