Canada Rejects BC Opioid Club Over Dark Web Purchase Plan

Health Canada said in a letter to the group that it could not approve the exemption because it “would allow the purchase of illegally produced controlled substances from illegal sellers on dark web markets.”

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Health Canada has rejected a request from a Vancouver-based harm reduction group to create the first compassion club in North America to give members access to prescription heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine.

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The Drug Users Liberation Front has sought an exemption from the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act that would have allowed them to give illegal drugs – purchased on the dark web – to people at high risk of overdose in the Downtown Eastside.

Health Canada said in a letter to the group that he could not endorse the exemption because it “would allow the purchase of illegally produced controlled substances from illegal sellers on dark web markets. Sourcing drugs from the dark web is not a viable option to advance the objectives of the (law), namely protecting public health and maintaining public safety.

The group replied that their request was supported by Vancouver Coastal Health, the First Nations Health Authority, the City of Vancouver, the Portland Hotel Society and the BC Center on Substance Use.

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He said Health Canada’s rejection shows a lack of appreciation “that the toxic drug crisis has a current and devastating impact on public health and safety” and that there is no legal source to replace illicit drugs.

Advocates have called on British Columbia to expand its Safe Supply Program, which provides pharmaceutical-grade opioids from a regulated source to prevent overdoses from tainted illicit drugs.

A handful of federally-approved pilot programs operate in Vancouver and Victoria, all of which require a prescription from a doctor or nurse practitioner. So far, 12,000 BC citizens have had access to a prescribed safe supply.


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