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Free heroin, cocaine and meth handed out outside of the Vancouver Police Department

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Free heroin, cocaine and meth handed out outside of the Vancouver Police Department
"We gave three-and-a-half grams of each drug."
By: Elana Shepert​

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
"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."

I fail to see how this marginalizes the "LQBTQ2S" community...or why these people are choosing to push that angle here?

I lived 5 minutes from that police station for years. The focus on the vancouver police here is a bit jaded. The VPD does more good than harm down there and generally tries to help... I don't really know what else to say. Go live in the area for a while, the problems far exceeed the solution of giving people free drugs.

The fact that they are trying to make this an issue of LQBTQ2S tells me these people are just out to make it a political issue and find drama where there is none. It is rediculous to make that statement. They can't explain how that statement is true?...it's probly not.

Vancouvber has a HUGE problem yes, these people are probly not the answer. Oh well.

I will admit upfront I am VERY skeptical of Vancouvers free drugs free needles programs. They do NOT seem to work, from someone who lived there and know people peronally on the streets there.

Vancouver has a drug culture, in general. I almost think it's a drug culture problem. It is almost celebrated. I wish I could explain properly what its like growing up in a PNW city. Drugs are just everywhere. I don't have answers but I have seen the situation worsen and worsen despite all the efforts.
I'm not up to speed at all with drug policy in Canada/Vancouver but this is incredible to me. an eight of free, high purity, tested drugs? Are you allowed to get an eighth of each? I can't imagine being a homeless person and getting wind of that news "hey, yeah they're handing out heroin down the road. oh yeah, no worries it's all kosher; it's actually AT the police station". Are they going to give me a free cup of coffee and sandwich and let me relax and use their free wifi as I fade in and out of the book I'm reading and the imaginary scenery that fills in the nods?

Anyways... In reality I'm not sure this is the best tactic. Actually, I am sure it is not the best tactic. I don't know what the best tactic is, but it is going to be nuanced. This is better than throwing people in cages for using drugs... It would help attenuate the inevitable lying, stealing, cheating and violence that come hand-in-hand with street prices.. It would also attenuate the health risks obviously... But is it going to help reduce addiction? I don't think so. Like I said though, reducing addiction is complicated thing and the answer isn't clear. If we generalize the parameters of what should be considered addiction (as Gabor Mate, the Dr. that was at the front line trying to aid in Vancouver's destitute and drug addled population, tries to define and parse, in his books and lectures) we quickly realize that the difference between drug addiction and other addictions is quite superficial, and the consequences of different aberrations of addiction are not obvious. It isn't obvious that heroin will always have a devastating effect, and it isn't obvious that our phones and food choices aren't having a just as pernicious effect. Addiction seems to be quite common in modern culture, and if we can define it, and find the ambiguous line that separates addiction from passion, that will be a great accomplishment.
Addiction rips you of the sense of control in your life. I think drugs should be safe and affordable but it would be better if you still had to walk in to the drug store and pay for them so that you can do the math on how much you spend on drugs and that way you could maybe even plan a bit your spending.

I don't really know how it feels to hit the real rock bottom though, so I don't know what would actually help.

Maybe they should give them better drugs...
Yes, addiction is a complex issue. And there is no easy solution. Look at alcohol. Legal, available anywhere, cheap. Wrecks lives like a sledgehammer. Prohibition didn't realy help either.

People are falling through the cracks of social fabric, or they have other mental health issues.
And then there's a dopamine button that makes it all so much more bearable.

It's a perfect trap.

I lived in amsterdam for a while, and it's probably simmilar to vancouver in that the city is known to have a drug culture. People from all over europe flock to amsterdam to do drugs.

Both the drug culture itself, and the attitude from policymakers towards it, comes and goes in waves. Policy goes from strict to loose to strict again. And drug abuse itself is like an epidemic that comes and goes as well.

The authorities never had, and will never have, any grip on it.

The only thing you can do is to treat people like human beings. Make rehab accessable to anyone. Not just to people with money.
Some people you can't help. They're too damaged. But they're still just human beings like me and you. We can still be kind to them, instead of mean or hostile.
I don't know if Canadian society is as litigious as the U.S., but I don't see this model ever taking root in the States, even in a tolerant place like, say, San Francisco. As soon as someone dies of an overdose on the free drugs they received from the city, a wrongful death lawsuit will put an end to the program. Permanently.
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