Commons committee calling for public-awareness campaign on harms of meth

The House of Commons health committee is recommending a public-awareness campaign to provide credible and reliable information about the potential harms of methamphetamine use.

The committee says many people who use the drug don't know how addictive and dangerous it can be.

Committee members travelled across Canada to see the effects of methamphetamine use and its rapid increase in some communities.

They say many witnesses are calling for Ottawa to work with all levels of government to decriminalize simple possession of small quantities of illicit substances.

Health officials say decriminalization is necessary, because problematic substance use and addiction is a health problem for users, who are afraid to seek help because of the potential legal ramifications.

The committee points to Portugal's decriminalization of simple possession, which included a scaling-up of treatment programs and the creation of diversion programs for offenders who commit crimes related to their substance-use disorders.

The Conservatives on the committee issued a dissenting report saying that several other things need to be done before decriminalization, such as making more drug-treatment available and improving public education.