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Oregon abandons decriminalizing hard drugs

“America’s most radical experiment with drug decriminalization has ended, after more than three years of painful results,” The Atlantic reported in early April. Increased overdose deaths and “chaos in the streets” has the state of Oregon going back to criminalizing hard drugs.

When the state decided to decriminalize drugs in 2020, 59 percent of voters supported it. Decriminalization advocates wanted to focus on a strategy of reducing the harm that drugs cause to users. Over $260 million was spent on services to help make this a reality.

Three years later, 64 percent now want to go back, with support particularly strong among African American and Hispanic Oregonians. The New York Times reported that a wide range of officials supported a rollback in policy, citing surging homelessness, street protests, “an exodus of downtown businesses, record numbers of homicides, the rapid spread of fentanyl and soaring overdose deaths.”

British Columbia followed Oregon’s lead by decriminalizing many hard drugs in 2023. Adults in possession of heroin, fentanyl, crack, meth, ecstasy, and some other hard drugs, so long as they are for personal use, will not be charged. This is an experiment being run until 2026. The province’s NDP government is already being criticized by mayors of smaller cities in the province who are reporting public disorder similar to what’s been experienced in Oregon. Yet BC is pressing on with its experiment.

An underlying motivation for decriminalizing hard drugs and providing “safe supply” of drugs, even at the taxpayers’ expense, is the belief that drug problems will lessen if we ditch the stigma associated with drug use. If we stop treating it as shameful and immoral, then, so the argument goes, more people might seek treatment. But as Romans 7 teaches us, the law plays an important role “in order that sin might be recognized as sin.” Secular society may succeed in changing its laws to reduce the stigma of sin, but as we’re seeing in Oregon, making sin seem less sinful isn’t the answer. That will only serve to hold sinners in bondage further. What is needed is something that the law can never accomplish. “Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:24-25).

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British Columbia approves protocols to give opioid prescriptions to minors 

Recently, Adam Zivo reported in the National Post that the British Columbia government has authorized the distribution of opioid prescriptions to minors, without parental permission. This is being done under the province’s “safer supply” or “harm reduction” strategy which involves the prescription of opioids, including fentanyl, to addicts. So, instead of trying to put these children into rehab to get off drugs completely, the program aims to provide individuals with “clean” drugs as an alternative or supplement to the illicit and toxic substances that they are addicted to. Harm reduction is grounded in the belief that complete abstinence is an impossible goal. This perspective is evident in sex ed, where the focus is on teaching kids how to lower but not eliminate the risks of unwanted pregnancies and STDs – it’s safer, but not at all safe, sex. One of the goals of harm reduction is often to “destigmatize” actions, whether it be in the case of “sexual liberation” or drug use. Some Christians see this shame-free approach as a way of loving your neighbor, yet it goes directly against what God says about sin. How can one come to repentance if you are told what you are doing is not shameful? Despite the implementation of “safer supply” pilot programs across the country since 2020, the latest data from BC Coroners Service reveals that 2023 marked the third consecutive year with overdose deaths exceeding 2,000 lives. Recent reports of “safer supply” programs have found serious cases of diversion, where people were getting government-funded drugs and selling them, and in some cases, bringing them to youth in suburban areas. In an August report, the British Columbia Centre on Substance Use (BCCSU) proposed protocols permitting nurses and doctors to prescribe opioids to both adults and minors. The BCCSU, in outlining its protocols, has even admitted that “To date, there is no evidence available supporting this intervention, safety data, or established best practices for when and how to provide it.” So, without any clear sense of concrete evidence that interventions like this work, they proceeded to recommend this process with loose requirements. The only requirement for minors to qualify is a “two prescriber approval system,” wherein one medical professional interviews the patient, and the other signs off. What raises serious concerns is the lack of acknowledgment for parents and their rights over their children within these protocols. According to the National Post’s Adam Zivo: “While the B.C. government generally promotes its commitment to safer supply, it was oddly silent in this instance. I became aware of the new protocols only because two concerned addiction physicians contacted me shortly after their publication.” The absence of any requirement to inform or involve parents in the decision-making process for minors seeking prescription opioids may create incentives for young individuals to distance themselves from their families. The family unit, a child’s God-given foundation of support and guidance, is bypassed in a manner that could contribute to strained relationships and increased risks for the young individuals involved. Not only does the province allow access to safe supply drugs without needing parents’ approval, but it also takes away parents’ rights to get the help their child needs. In BC, parents can’t make their kids go to rehab against their will. Historically, the Church has been the place where individuals with addictions sought help, but in recent times, we have witnessed a shift towards government interventions driven by a worldview that doesn’t value the family as God does....