Thu. May 19th, 2022

The Vancouver City Council has voted to support a federal application that would allow a “compassion club” model and deliver tested drugs in the city.

The application was made by the Drug User Liberation Front (DULF), which had previously handed out tested drugs before the Vancouver Police Department.

It requires an exemption from section 56 of the Controlled Drugs and Drugs Act, which would allow them to open a center for the fulfillment of safe supply and distribute pure tested drugs.

Councilman Jean Swanson’s proposal passed almost unanimously Thursday night after a change to ensure the drugs would be purchased in legal ways.

DULF plans to procure legal drugs, test them and package them to give to drug users. Their proposal says this will reduce the risk of overdoses. (Ben Nelms / CBC)

“We have tried every other way to prevent this death. And we know what we do will work,” Eris Nyx, co-founder of DULF, told CBC News.

If the federal exemption is granted, DULF would work with organizations like Fair Price Pharma to procure, test, and package legally procured drugs before dispensing them.

Nyx says that the tested drugs that DULF delivers will ensure that people know the dosage amounts they are taking. The motion says this will help prevent overdoses.

The council has now approved the DULF exemption application and Mayor Kennedy Stewart will write a letter in support of the federal government.

The application has the support of Vancouver Coastal Health and several policy experts, including from the BC Center on Substance Use and the Canadian Policy Policy Coalition.

Nyx says any decriminalization effort on the part of the city would not work without a secure supply, and that this application was a step in that direction.

Advocates of secure supply have previously criticized Vancouver’s approach to decriminalization and secure supply, saying the city’s solutions were deficient.

Supply currently retrieved through illegal means

DULF had previously downloaded some of their pure substances from the dark web, which was the cause of much debate in the council.

The dark web is a hidden part of the internet that does not show up on search engines and requires a special browser to access. Websites on the dark web include those involved in illegal activity, such as the supply of drugs on the street.

Nyx says she had no interest in engaging in criminal activities, but without the exemption from giving DULF legal avenues to access clean supplies, they would have to resort to illegal means.

“We are not criminals, we are just people who have lived and worked in this community that suffered so enormously. So many people have passed away,” she said.

So far, Nyx says no overdoses or deaths have been reported from the pure drugs DULF has dispensed.

Vancouver City Councilman Jean Swanson distributed free drugs, including meth, heroin and cocaine, to people outside the Vancouver Police Department in July. (Ben Nelms / CBC)

She says the group will soon proceed with the application for exemption, including going to court or judicial review if necessary.

“We want to go and challenge the Government of Canada about our fundamental rights. We want to say that we have the right to use drugs without being judged for not knowing what their content is and not being safe.”

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