A Vancouver-based advocate for drug-policy reform has issued what he describes as a plan to address B.C.'s epidemic of drug-overdose deaths.
Dana Larsen is a founding member of both the B.C. Marijuana Party and the Canadian Marijuana Party, a former editor of Cannabis Culture magazine, and the founder and director of Sensible B.C., which in 2013 narrowly failed to bring the province to hold a referendum on cannabis arrests. Since the dangerous synthetic-opioid fentanyl arrived in B.C., he's also talked more about how decriminalization and reforming drug laws could help reduce drug-overdose deaths.
Yesterday (July 23), Larsen's attention was caught by what the Vancouver Sun described as B.C. mental health and addictions minister Judy Darcy's "six-point plan" for the opioid epidemic. According to that article, it consists of "improving harm reduction, ending stigmas around addiction, providing more recovery services and social services such as housing and poverty reduction, addressing the underlying risk factors for addiction, and stamping out the illegal drug supply".
Larsen responded with a plan of his own.
Quoting from his posts on Twitter (slightly edited for grammar), here's Larsen's plan to reduce overdose deaths:
- Stop all arrests for the personal possession of any drug in B.C.
C. has the power to decriminalize possession by stopping arrests. This has to be the first step.
- Set up supervised injection [SIS] & overdose prevention sites [OPS] in every city and town in B.C.
People use injection drugs everywhere in B.C. We don't just need a SIS in the Downtown Eastside, we need them easily accessible and all across the province.
- Set up stations in all B.C. cities and towns where people can bring any street drug to be tested to find out what's in it, no questions asked.
People can get drugs tested at music festivals, they also need to be able to get them tested in their neighbourhood.
- Immediately begin providing hydromorphone, heroin, and other opiates in safe dosages to current users.
If we want to stop overdoses, we need a safe drug supply. This is crucial. Every drug-policy expert says we need a clean, legal drug supply.
- Fund programs which offer cannabis and/or kratom as substitutes to opiates. Also fund addiction treatment programs that use psychedelic therapies like ibogaine & psilocybe.
Prohibition itself bans beneficial medicinal herbs that help people get off opiates.
- Heavily lobby the federal government to end the drug war by legalizing safe dosages of most currently banned drugs, and treat problem substance use as a health issue, not a criminal offence.
We must recognize that prohibition itself is the real "drug problem".
Last year 1,449 people in B.C. died of an illicit-drug overdose. That's up from 995 in 2016, 525 the year before that, and 368 fatal overdoses in 2014.
How do you think Larsen's plan to reduce overdose deaths compares to the minister's?