Despite the rejection from Health Canada, Compassion club organizers in Vancouver refuse to stop selling hard drugs like tested cocaine, methamphetamine, and heroin. The club organizers say that the only way to save lives is to do things illegally as the drug supply is already a toxic ‘sector.’
The organizers of groups that advocate for safe drug supply said that enforcing rules and regulations for the illicit supply is going to stop the deaths caused by drug toxicity. The deaths have increased to a staggering 10,000 in British Columbia in the last six years when it was first announced to be a national emergency.
On Wednesday, organizers such as co-founder of Drug User Liberation Front(DULF) Eric Nyx said that the victims of illegal drug supply are people of our community, they are friends or family members we love, and every day we are losing so many people we care deeply about.
The press conference at which Nyx gave his speech was marking International Overdose Awareness Day. He also said that his group is currently in the process of seeking a judicial review from Canada Health about the decision. The basis of the review involves asking Canada Health why the officials did not consider the fundamental rights to life and equality.
Last year, to operate as a compassion club model for hard drugs, The DUlF along with the Vancouver area Network of Drug Users sent a request to Health Canada to temporarily exempt them from the criminal code. The request was rejected on 29 July.
Despite the rejection, Nyx had gone ahead with their project for a month where the centers and Compassion clubs for heroin, Cocaine, and Methamphetamine had operated smoothly. They had distributed 201 grams of drugs. They had no reports of overdosing from drugs.
The motto of the advocacy group for now seems to be following the model of “do-it-yourself.” Nyx is confident that their project could be spread across the province and for that, they would need approval from Health Canada.
Nyx also declared that the regime of prohibition is a failure of our state and that they had a problem with regulations. The regime of prohibition failure is a matter of political issues instead of it being criminal or medical issues.
Canada Drug problems
Even though Health Canada has not yet publicly commented on the situation, on the occasion of Overdose Awareness Day they did make a statement about what the government is planning to do regarding the issue. They mostly want to focus on supervised consumption sites, invest in new drug-checking technologies, and even have safe supply programs.
Last year was heavy for Canada as almost 21 people died every day due to opioid-related overdoses, according to the joint comment of Jean-Yves Duclos and Carolyn Benett, Health Minister and minister of mental health respectively.
After a federal exemption in May, the first province to decriminalize possessions of minute amounts of hard drugs is going to be British Columbia. The big move by British Columbia will happen by January. If anyone 18 or above is found in the possession of a total of 2.5 grams of hard drugs such as cocaine, methamphetamine, or MDMA (ecstasy) will not face any criminal charges.
However, in the news conference held on Wednesday, the speakers warned that the possession amount is insignificant when anyone who is found to be distributing drugs whether illegally or employing safe supply is going to be criminalized.
According to Fred Cameron of SOLID outreach society, drugs are always going to be used by the people, and the problem is not in the consumption, but rather it is the supply of the drugs. In the 1990s, the situation was the same but then there were no better support or consumption services and importantly the dope was not toxic. Therefore, the government’s first job should be to ensure a safe supply.