Dana Larsen: New consumption laws exposing drug war hypocrisy

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      Victoria's city council recently unanimously voted to support "supervised inhalation sites" where illicit drug-users can smoke. At the same time, it denied business licences to any weed lounges and have passed bylaws banning any "on-site consumption of cannabis."

      Vancouver's city council also recently passed a unanimous motion to support a safe drug supply for opiate users. But they too are refusing to change bylaws that force dispensaries in the Downtown Eastside to close, thereby drastically reducing access to a safe supply of cannabis in the city.

      Meanwhile, B.C.'s New Democratic Party is running ad campaigns to end the stigma around drug-use. But they've also passed laws that punish people with up to three months in jail and $5000 in fines if their legal cannabis plant is visible from the street. The NDP have opened supervised injection sites, which is great, but at the same time banned any safe smoking spaces for cannabis users.

      Don't get me wrong—I am thrilled to see this long-overdue support for supervised injection sites, inhalation sites, and a safe drug supply. And I agree wholeheartedly that we need to end the stigma around drug use. I just don't understand why our elected officials can't apply the same logic to cannabis.

      I don't understand how a politician can support a safe inhalation site for crack cocaine and methamphetamine, but refuses to license a cannabis inhalation lounge. How can the same politicians, who claim they want to end the stigma around drug-use, also continue to punish and stigmatize the growing of a few legal cannabis plants? How can a politician call for safe drug supply, while trying to shut down dispensaries providing a safe cannabis supply?

      Just like alcohol and opiate users, cannabis consumers also need a safe supply, a secure place to use, and an end to stigmatization. Sadly, even with our so-called "legalization", we still haven't achieved those goals.

      Dana Larsen is an author, advocate, and activist for cannabis and drug policy reform. Click here to follow Dana on Twitter.