Planning a city to tackle the drug problem

Vancouver's Drug User Liberation Front is handing out free samples of clean, checked drugs in clearly labeled boxes with what's what percentage (Jean Swanson / Twitter).

Vancouver’s Drug User Liberation Front is handing out free samples of clean, checked drugs in clearly labeled boxes with what’s what percentage (Jean Swanson / Twitter).

As an illegal rate Drug overdose To Vancouver A group of soaring activists are handing out free samples of heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine in front of the police station with the help of city council members.

State British Columbia Linked to Canada’s drug overdose crisis, it is now the fifth year of a public health emergency.

Last month, BC Coroners Service reported that 160 people died from overdose in May alone. This is an average of 5.2 people per day. Coroner Lisa Lapointe said 851 people died from overdose during the first five months of 2021. This is a new record for the five months.

Toxic drugs, especially synthetic opioid fentanyl, are fueling the crisis.

The city of Vancouver has officially sought an exemption from federal drug law to become Canada’s first jurisdiction to decriminalize possession of small amounts of drugs, including heroin and stimulants. The proposal, called the “Vancouver Model,” lists threshold levels for 15 common substances, and the city states that this leads to a dramatic reduction in police attacks.

But activists not only didn’t talk about the proposal, they said it wasn’t enough.

This week’s anger at the decriminalization proposal culminated in an event held outside the Vancouver Police Department by the Vancouver-based activist group Drug User Liberation Front (Dalph).

With the help of city council member Jean Swanson, the group handed out free samples of clean, checked medicines in clearly labeled boxes with the contents and proportions of the medicines. They spent about $ 3,000 from a crowdsourcing campaign to buy medicine from a “trusted dealer.”

Darf previously held similar events throughout the city as a public call for a more regulatory framework to combat illicit drugs.

Police said they were unaware that the drug was being distributed at the event, but Dalph organizer Jeremy Calicam said the group worked closely with police on all planned protests. It says it will notify you. Calicam says it involves letting them know that the drug will be distributed.

“We informed the police about this about a month ago. We also sent it to the police chief. [drugs].. “

However, this is where police are currently fighting after the public has expressed concern about the event for several days after it was held.

Vancouver's Drug User Liberation Front is handing out free samples of clean, checked drugs in clearly labeled boxes with what's what percentage (Jean Swanson / Twitter).

Vancouver’s Drug User Liberation Front is handing out free samples of clean, checked drugs in clearly labeled boxes with what’s what percentage (Jean Swanson / Twitter).

“We knew the planned protest, but I don’t know if we knew about drug distribution,” says police officer Tania Vicintin. “Many interested citizens have reached out. We are currently checking the situation.”

Dalph distributed drugs to the Vancouver Regional Network of Drug Users (VANDU), Tenant Overdose Response Organizers, the Harm Reduction Association of Western Aborigines, and a coalition of fellows dismantling the war on drugs and provided them to members at the event. The staff of the Overdose Prevention Association attended.

Swanson joined after being asked by an organizer who knew he had worked for 10 years in downtown Eastside, one of the poorest areas in the city, before his career as a city council member.

“Most councilors will probably not go and hand over [drugs] It’s out, but it supports a safe supply, “she says.

Swanson said the government was “ignoring” advocacy groups and the currently proposed bill was “weak.”

“They bring it in a very bureaucratic way and will not benefit anyone.

“Our little action has shown that if some low-money groups can do it, billion-dollar governments can do it.”

Swanson was disappointed by the lack of action from the government, given that drug-related deaths outweighed the lives lost during the Covid Pandemic BC.

“Why isn’t there the power to elicit all cessation for people who use drugs like Covid?”

Eris Nyx, a harm reduction activist and one of the organizers of the event, said their regulatory model helps to supply safe products to people who use drugs.

“We are not criminals. There is an unpredictable and volatile drug market caused by drug bans,” she says.

“It kills our friends, our family, our neighbors … we need to regulate.”

According to Nyx, drug dealers often offer drugs that are cut with various toxic substances such as fentanyl, and users often don’t know what they are buying. The regulatory framework will end it.

She also said the “current system, including police, courts and prosecution,” needed to be dismantled, and that a “peer support model” that included better education for medical and drug users was the way forward. believe.

“When you see what we see, you can’t do anything else, but try to prevent all these deaths, and I think this is the right way to go.”

There is increasing evidence that decriminalization of drugs is an effective way to reduce the rate of overdose.

Portugal decriminalized the drug in 2001. Ten years later, the number of fatal opioid overdose was reduced by a factor of five.

In addition to BC’s decriminalization proposal, the state will provide $ 45 million to prevent overdose over the next three years, including safe consumption areas and naloxone supplies.

However, Calicam said it was inaccessible to “most endangered” people, doctors were “feared” to prescribe a safe supply, and those who prescribe were “severely attacked by peers.” “.

He says decriminalization does not reduce overdose because the supply chain remains the same.

Vandu staff member Vince Tao hasn’t chopped up his words about the state’s proposed decriminalization measures, calling it the “Bulls *** premise.”

The Vandu mantra “has nothing to do with us without us,” Tao said, and authorities had not consulted with them to put together a proposal.

Jon Braithwaite, a director of Vandu, who is also a drug user, says that complete decriminalization naturally reduces imprisonment and hospital visits because people use clean drugs and equipment and do not have to rely on toxic substances. .. Many of his friends have been imprisoned for illegal substance use, and these were “not worth it,” he says.

Another event with free drug samples will take place on August 31st. This is the day of international recognition of overdose.

“We’ll keep doing that until something changes. That’s the only option at the moment,” says Nyx.

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