FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
City Councillor Jean Swanson and drug user advocacy groups distribute a safe supply of heroin,
cocaine, and methamphetamine at the Vancouver Police Department to protest proposed
“Vancouver Model” of drug decriminalization and lack of safe supply.
The City of Vancouver’s disregard for concerns raised by BC’s drug user groups concerning the recently
submitted model for decriminalization has prompted a demonstration to highlight the importance of community-led safe supply initiatives.
Vancouver, BC – City Councillor Jean Swanson, along with members of the Drug User Liberation Front and the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users (VANDU), distributed free heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine outside the Vancouver Police Department this afternoon. The action demonstrates the life-saving potential of a community-led response to the crisis of prohibition in Canada as a necessary alternative to the City’s “Vancouver Model” of decriminalization. These drugs have been tested via FTIR spectrometry and immunoassay, and are free of fentanyl, fentanyl analogues, benzodiazepines, and many other harmful adulterants.
“The crisis is unbearable and it is ridiculous that we have to put ourselves at risk to moveforward with a commonsense harm reduction principle.” - Jeremy Kalicum, DULF
The purpose of this action is to raise awareness of the deeply flawed aspects of the Vancouver Model of decriminalization, including disproportionate influence of the Vancouver Police Department, unreasonably low drug thresholds, and lack of provisions for safe supply. 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. We are rejecting Vancouver’s proposed model, for the following reasons:
1. The proposed threshold limits in the Vancouver Model are dangerously low and don’t conform with actual patterns of drug use.
2. The lack of an exemption for community-led compassion clubs for the distribution of safe supply.
3. The exclusion of drug users from meaningful participation in the development of drug policy.
Canada is accelerating the constantly worsening crisis of prohibition and self-congratulatory half-measures of toxic public policy are unacceptable. This past May, there were 160 illicit drug toxicity deaths in British Columbia, a 21% increase over the number of deaths occurring in May 2020. Nearly six people a day are dying in British Columbia because of failed drug policies that continue to criminalize people who use drugs. Decriminalization without safe supply will fail to reduce this horrific loss of life.
We call on the City of Vancouver and Health Canada to respond to this dire need and live up to their responsibility to safeguard Canadians and end the cycle of preventable death. With profound frustration and unimaginable grief, we share this message: Step up and address the issues that are killing us or allow us the legal sanctioning to do it ourselves, outside of the constraints of this discriminatory structure.
Formed in response to the ever-mounting overdose deaths in British Columbia and across Canada, the Drug User Liberation Front looks to provide tangible solutions to this devastating crisis. We are an organized collective of people who use drugs empowered to make change through direct action, courage and conviction, and fueled by the memories of the countless friends, families, and loved ones whose lives have been taken by an unjust, broken system of laws and policies. https://www.dulf.ca/
The Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users (VANDU) was formed in 1998 to bring together groups of people who use drugs. VANDU is committed to increasing the capacity of people who use illicit drugs to live healthy and productive lives. We do this by affirming and strengthening people who use illicit drugs to reduce harms both to themselves and their communities.