Advocates for a safe supply of drugs handed out heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine outside the Vancouver Police Department Wednesday (July 14) afternoon.
City Councillor Jean Swanson, along with members of the Drug User Liberation Front (DULF) and the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users (VANDU), distributed the free drugs outside the Vancouver Police Department.
The collective action demonstrates the "life-saving potential of a community-led response to the crisis of prohibition in Canada" as a necessary alternative to Vancouver's proposed model of decriminalization, explains a news release. The drugs that were handed out were tested via "FTIR spectrometry and immunoassay, and are free of fentanyl, fentanyl analogues, benzodiazepines, and other harmful adulterants."
Jeremy Kalicum, DULF organizer, tells Vancouver Is Awesome that “the crisis is unbearable and it is ridiculous that we have to put ourselves at risk to move forward with a commonsense harm reduction principle.”
The group spent roughly $3,000 on drugs and distributed it among four groups. "We gave out more than the proposed threshold limit that's in Vancouver's proposed model.
"We gave three-and-a-half grams of each drug."
Kalicum says the funds for the drugs were raised on DULF's online fundraising platform and distributed to VANDU, Tenant Overdose Response Organizers, Western Aboriginal Harm Reduction Society and Coalition of Peers Dismantling the Drug War. "Each group got ten-and-half grams of drugs total."
The group aims to raise awareness of the "deeply flawed aspects of the Vancouver Model of decriminalization," which includes the "disproportionate influence of the Vancouver Police Department, unreasonably low drug thresholds, and lack of provisions for safe supply."
Additionally, the group underscores that the proposed model risks causing "significant harm" to people who use drugs, especially those at intersecting marginalized social locations, such as people experiencing homelessness, BIPOC, and those from the LGBTQ2S* community.
The collective is rejecting Vancouver’s proposed model, for the following reasons:
- The proposed threshold limits in the Vancouver Model are dangerously low and don’t conform with actual patterns of drug use.
- The lack of an exemption for community-led compassion clubs for the distribution of safe supply.
- The exclusion of drug users from meaningful participation in the development of drug policy.
B.C. marks five years of opioid health emergency
April 14 marked a sobering anniversary in B.C. – five years since the overdose health emergency was proclaimed in the province.
In the past 25 years, more than 12,632 British Columbians have died of illicit drug overdoses. That’s equal to the population of the city of Terrace.
Since the 2016 emergency declaration, some 7,000 have died.
By January, an average of 5.3 people were dying daily.
B.C.'s chief coroner Lisa Lapointe said overdose is the fourth highest cause of death in the province with the average age of death being 43.
With files from Jeremy Hainsworth