Vancouver protestors calling for drug safety give out free cocaine
In an unconventional display of activism, protestors in Vancouver gave out free cocaine at a recent rally in which they called for greater drug safety after a whopping 170 tragic overdoses in British Columbia in May. As apart of the newly formed Drug User Liberation Front, members gave out safe doses of the drug during a march along with a note providing basic safety instructions and detailing what was in the sample.
According to Mixmag and The Tyee, protestors also gave out samples of opium, and were hoping to distribute heroin as well, but couldn’t proceed due to the city’s supply being so contaminated. Journalist Andrea Woo shared the news of the doses being handed out via Twitter.
Drug user activists have blocked off the corner of Hastings and Dunlevy and are giving out free (tested) cocaine and opium to draw attention to their call for a safer supply pic.twitter.com/cMQIMEl8Wu
— Andrea Woo | 鄔瑞楓 (@AndreaWoo) June 23, 2020
The protests were sparked from outrage after a report from British Columbia Coroners Service was handed down in May which found most of the overdoses in that month were attributed to “extreme” fentanyl contamination. In the last four years, over 5,545 people have died of drug overdoses in the province, and The Drug User Liberation Front has called for a number of safety measures to be implemented to stop this. As Mixmag reported, these measures include decriminalising drug possession, increasing the access to prescription drugs, providing pharmaceutical-grade cocaine and heroin for safe use, and defunding the Vancouver police in order to better fund community organisations.
The increasingly dangerous contamination and consequent overdoses have been a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Tyee reported this, saying, “Border restrictions and other measures meant to combat the COVID-19 pandemic have thrown an already unstable illicit drug supply into chaos, cutting off access to the raw materials and making the street supply almost entirely contaminated.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has seen real impacts on drug markets across the world, with many dealers reporting disruption in supply of party drugs throughout periods of isolation internationally. As summer nears in Australia, we hope the conversation regarding drug safety reignites — with hopefully some actual solutions offered.
Words by Emma Jones
Image by Daniel Foster