"The study’s findings emphasize that although some participants expect decriminalization to result in positive outcomes and felt as though the 2.5g threshold was appropriate, the majority of participants foresaw a number of significant limitations due to the defined threshold quantity. Our findings offer insights into what those limitations are. This is in line with the research and consultation process that was conducted by BC’s Ministry of Mental Health and Addiction to inform the exemption request, and by the many advocates who continue to recommend a higher threshold limit that more accurately reflects people who use drugs’ substance use profiles in BC [20]. Participants in our study proposed a number of factors that may undermine the effectiveness of the 2.5g threshold, such as continued need to purchase substances in smaller quantities, which has the potential to be “stomped” or contaminated with other substances, thus potentially increasing overdose risk. Additionally, with a threshold limit so low, it could create a market for substances to become more adulterated, which could make them increasingly dangerous for people to use. As research in other jurisdictions has shown, drug policy interventions that target drug markets can have severe impacts on the safety of the drug market and can increase overdose risk and other harms for people who rely on it [2830]. People in our study who relied on purchasing drugs in bulk suggested that the threshold could result in additional financial costs and increased overdose risk. As well, police discretion to arrest and charge above the 2.5g threshold could result in the unintended consequence of increasing drug-related arrests, such as through targeted search and seizures and increased surveillance of drug trafficking.

"The implementation and enforcement of the policy, and particularly the 2.5g threshold, will likely be of utmost importance when evaluating whether the policy is meeting its proposed objectives, as the threshold will be used to delineate between those who will be criminalized versus those who will not. Currently, there is no publicly available information regarding what types of information police will take into consideration when deciding what amount above the 2.5g threshold will be considered possession for personal use versus for trafficking purposes, and whether a criminal or health response will be taken. This therefore has significant implications for law enforcement who are tasked with enforcing the policy. Data from Australia suggest that based on individual drug use patterns, even when there are clear threshold limits for personal possession/use versus trafficking, some people who use drugs are still at risk of being criminalized for possession and/or trafficking if their personal use exceeds current thresholds [16]. Recognizing this, it has been suggested that in BC, the threshold should be considered a ‘floor’ not a ‘ceiling’ [19], meaning that people who possess over the 2.5 g threshold should not automatically be considered as carrying for trafficking purposes and that law enforcement should be guided by explicit direction to avoid criminalizing people who use drugs. Such a broad interpretation would recognize that people who use drugs who have varying patterns of use might need to possess over the 2.5g limit but would not necessarily be doing so for trafficking purposes."


Ali F, Russell C, Greer A, Bonn M, Werb D, Rehm J. "2.5 g, I could do that before noon": a qualitative study on people who use drugs' perspectives on the impacts of British Columbia's decriminalization of illegal drugs threshold limit. Subst Abuse Treat Prev Policy. 2023;18(1):32. Published 2023 Jun 15. doi:10.1186/s13011-023-00547-w