âEvery time I overdosed it was a direct cause of drug quality failure,â said a former addict.
“Every time I overdosed it was a direct cause of drug quality failure.”
It was Kevin Donaghy, a former Downtown Eastside resident and former president of the BC / Yukon Association of Drug War Survivors, who told Vancouver City Council on Thursday (October 7) that he nearly died “several times” in as a result of a toxic drug. supply. âI owe my life to the frontline harm reduction workers in the Downtown Eastside,â he added.
If a compassion club with clean heroin and other drugs had existed, Donaghy stressed that he didn’t think he would have overdosed.
“A heroin compassion club would have the immediate potential to reduce the number of fentanyl-related deaths and the impact of organized crime,” he said.
Following Donaghy’s impassioned speech, along with many others, Vancouver City Council unanimously approved a motion that approves a federal exemption for a compassion club model aimed at providing safer drugs to people who are use drugs.
The motion, presented by Councilor Jean Swanson, supports a request by the Drug User Liberation Front (DULF) and the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users (VANDU) to the federal government for an exemption under s. 56 (1) of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA) to allow them to operate a safe distribution center and Cocaine, Heroin and Methamphetamine (CHM) compassion clubs in the city.
Vancouver Coastal Health supports this model and has agreed to work with DULF and VANDU to implement it. However, there was some hesitation regarding the purchase of illicit substances.
Some board members noted that the use of the dark web to obtain illegal drugs supported crime. In particular, Councilor Melissa De Genova noted that vulnerable young women are used as drug mules to transport substances to other parts of the world.
But advocates say they’re not interested in working with criminals – they just haven’t had a viable alternative to saving lives.
Compassionate clubs for heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine in Vancouver
DULF co-founder Jeremy Kalicum said Vancouver is awesome that the organization wants to obtain drugs legally but could not do so without the exemption from the federal government.
Fair Price Pharma, a Canadian not-for-profit pharmaceutical company, can supply DULF with injectable pharmaceutical heroin. The company is led by Dr. Perry Kendall, British Columbia’s first medical officer of health, who corresponds regularly with the organization.
At the moment, Fair Price Pharma can only supply heroin. Kalicum said there are other companies supplying cocaine, but DULF has yet to contact them.
Over the past year, DULF has distributed drugs at events aimed at demonstrating the life-saving potential of legalizing drugs. The drugs were distributed and were tested by “FTIR spectrometry and immunoassay” and were free of fentanyl, fentanyl analogues, benzodiazepines and other harmful adulterants.
DULF stresses that drug user groups should adhere to minimum safety and testing standards to operate compassion clubs. In addition, the organization would also work with local researchers on a rigorous evaluation of the program.
The compassion club’s standards would include âmaintaining a list of active members; ensure secure, double-locked storage for all substances; keep records of the quantities of substances distributed and to which members; keep financial records and have accountability processes â.
The funds for the supply and operation of the compassion club would be “obtained from donations and membership fees”.
Over the past 25 years, more than 12,632 British Columbians have died of overdoses of illicit drugs. It is equal to the population of the town of Terrace.
Since the declaration of emergency in 2016, some 7,000 people have died.
In January, an average of 5.3 people died each day.
British Columbia Chief Coroner Lisa Lapointe said overdoses are the fourth leading cause of death in the province, with the average age of death being 43.
With files from Jeremy Hainsworth