On the fifth anniversary of the province’s other public health crisis, B.C. officials announced they’ll be requesting a federal exemption from Health Canada to decriminalize personal drug possession. Earlier this year, Sheila Malcolmson, the province’s minister of mental health and addictions, sent a letter to the federal health minister inquiring about the possibility. In her letter, she asked for a federal approach to decriminalization. But, she wrote, failing that, she’d pursue it on a provincial level. On Wednesday, Malcolmson announced the province will move forward with a formal request. “This isn’t about legalization, like what happened with marijuana. This is about possessing a small amount of drugs. So that will no longer be a crime,” said Malcolmson in a news conference. She reiterated this week what she’s said before: the point of decriminalization would be to address the stigma associated with drug use. She said the shame can prevent people from reaching out for help, which can be life-saving.