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CanadaWhen Politicians Withhold A Safe Drug Supply, Canadians Die

18:42  24 april  2019
18:42  24 april  2019 Source:   huffingtonpost.ca

Notre Dame towers believed to be safe, and the fire is cooling off: secretary

Notre Dame towers believed to be safe, and the fire is cooling off: secretary The flame began just before 7 p.m. local time on Monday, and spread rapidly throughout the cathedral, which is one of Europe's most well-known structures. By 7:40 p.m., the rapid fire had spread to the spire, which collapsed just before 8 p.m. Minutes after that, the entire roof of the Notre Dame came down, according to Reuters. About 400 firefighters tried to contain the blaze with water hoses, as police and other emergency personnel cleared the area. © Provided by Corus Media Holdings, Inc.“Everything is burning, nothing will remain from the frame,” Notre Dame spokesman Andre Finot told French media.

Editor’s note: The opinions in this article are the author’s, as published by our content partner, and do not necessarily represent the views of MSN or Microsoft.

In last week's National Day of Action on the Overdose Crisis, people who use drugs, their families and harm-reduction workers gathered in dozens of communities for the largest demonstrations for drug decriminalization and safe supply in Canada's history. In Toronto, lead organizers We Grieve Thousands staged a "die-in" and let off smoke bombs in front of Health Canada's offices. Vancouver's event was styled as a parade, complete with floats and a New Orleans-style marching band. Prince George, B.C.'s courthouse was coated in blood-red handprints, symbolizing the complicity of Canada's legal system in the overdose crisis.

The day a mail-order high from China nearly ended Spenser Smith's life

The day a mail-order high from China nearly ended Spenser Smith's life In 2013, Spenser Smith went looking online for a new drug. The 21-year-old addict found Etizolam and ordered it from China. One sniff of the synthetic narcotic knocked him out and left him suicidal and frantic. The drug has now appeared in the B.C. drug supply and Smith says he fears for people who are ingesting it accidentally. The benzodiazepine-like drug is touted to provide sedation, euphoria and can reduce anxiety. It's not prescribed in North America, but it's commonly used to treat anxiety and depression in other countries. "I want to warn people," Smith said.

When Politicians Withhold A Safe Drug Supply, Canadians Die © Provided by Oath Inc. Akia Munga, centre, weeps at a die-in in Toronto.

While each event took on a distinct style, each of them spoke the same message to Canadians: Wake up, we are dying. As the protesters last week would tell you, ensuring a safe, regulated supply of opioid and stimulant drugs is not just a solution to the crisis, but also a human right.

Consider the grim circumstances that brought grieving and heartbroken Canadians together last week: An average of 11 preventable overdose deaths occur each day across the nation. People who use drugs are criminalized. Police in cities like Calgary prevent those at risk of overdose from accessing overdose prevention services. Tainted illicit drugs, unpredictable in both potency and content, factor into the majority of Canada's overdose deaths. Alternatives to illicit drugs, like a safe drug supply, are withheld by government, restricted by physicians and demonized in the public's eye. Recently elected Conservative provincial governments in Alberta and Ontario are hostile to lifesaving overdose prevention services.

Charges in 4 major VPD drug investigations have been sunk by Charter rights violations in past 3 years

Charges in 4 major VPD drug investigations have been sunk by Charter rights violations in past 3 years Project Trooper, Project Talon, Project Thorne and Project Tent were all major investigations by the VPD's drug squad. In each case, criminal prosecutions have fallen apart because of constitutional violations by the investigating officers. Defence lawyer Neil Cobb represented the suspects in three of those cases, and he alleges they, "are ... entirely representative of the way this specialized, highly funded unit of VPD officers go about the difficult work of investigating serious drug crimes on a day-to-day basis. "A culture of 'ends justifies the means' has been noted.

These are symptoms of a national drug policy unable to address the death and trauma that it indirectly creates.

When Politicians Withhold A Safe Drug Supply, Canadians Die © Provided by Oath Inc.

Canada's four-pillar approach to drug policy, enshrined in the Controlled Drugs and Substances Strategy, is structurally unsound. In the face of widespread fentanyl contamination in the drug supply, and unconscionable grief, every participating National Day of Action event united behind five demands of the federal government. Paramount among these demands was legitimizing and ensuring a "safe supply." Safe supply means providing people at overdose risk with legal, regulated, and/or prescribed access to mind altering drugs that are sought out under much riskier circumstances in an unregulated, criminalized market.

Tragically, safe supply remains absent from Canada's Drugs and Substances Strategy, which means it is missing from Canadian drug policy at the most fundamental, basic level. Safe supply illustrates the futility of a national drug strategy based on law enforcement and drug prohibition, and how impossible it is to address a systemic overdose crisis when regulated alternative drugs are illegal and withheld by government altogether.

'I felt like I was being robbed': Suspect cleared in Vancouver drug case loses Porsche, homes

'I felt like I was being robbed': Suspect cleared in Vancouver drug case loses Porsche, homes Dennis Halstead says he's not a fentanyl trafficker — he's just a landlord who made the mistake of renting a townhouse to drug dealers. But he's spent the last four years defending himself against allegations of running a multi-million-dollar drug operation. That ended earlier this year when all criminal charges against him were dismissed after a judge said Vancouver police officers had committed "serious breaches" of his charter rights during their investigation, nicknamed Project Trooper. And yet, because his file was referred to B.C.

What has prevented Canadian decision makers from making safe supply an essential component of the overdose response and drug policy writ large?

When Politicians Withhold A Safe Drug Supply, Canadians Die © Provided by Oath Inc.

"Political suicide" is the fear that a politician or political party has of losing widespread support and confidence from the voting public by proposing actions that are seen as "threatening" to the status quo. Safe supply and the decriminalization of people who use drugs are often used as examples of issues that could alienate political supporters and cost elections. Last year's Liberal Party convention saw a non-binding resolution for the "decriminalization of small amounts of drugs" passed with widespread support from the party's membership, but little support from the party's elite. Recent opinion polls also suggest that less than a majority of Canadians support drug decriminalization.

With Canada's federal election on the horizon, thousands of human lives are hanging in the balance. As far as public health crises go, it's been a very long time since this many human lives rested on the shoulders of the federal government. It's never been more important for the Canadian public to make their politicians recognize how many lives are at stake and show their support for the human rights of people who use(d) drugs.

She hoped jail would help her addicted son. He died of an overdose after less than two months

She hoped jail would help her addicted son. He died of an overdose after less than two months Cathy Johne was relieved to learn her son was back in jail. Derek Johne, 28, had wrestled with addiction much of his life. For his mother, the news he was in the Maplehurst Correctional Complex in Milton after an arrest for theft meant he would receive medical attention, psychological support and be under careful watch. “He had asked me to hold on and believe in him one more time, because he was going to get help this time,” she told the Star. Her son was arrested in late April 2017 for stealing from a Whole Foods Market and LCBO and violating his probation.

Portugal is a conservative Western European nation that decriminalized drugs over a decade ago, in the face of increasing HIV and overdose death rates. Portugal's then Prime Minister Antonio Guterres did not see their political career or reputation destroyed, the country did not descend into chaos, and no, the sky over Portugal did not fall, either. What did fall in the wake of Portugal's decriminalization were rates of overdose and HIV contraction. As for Antonio Guterres, he now serves as Secretary-General of the United Nations. Doesn't sound like much of a demotion, does it? Portugal's experience of decriminalization teaches us that "political suicide" is not a foregone conclusion for politicians brave enough to publicly support drug decriminalization.

When Politicians Withhold A Safe Drug Supply, Canadians Die © Provided by Oath Inc.

Political support for safe supply and decriminalization exists across Canada, from major cities like Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver, to smaller towns like Red Deer, Alta. and Prince George, B.C. As an indicator of growing support and awareness, the hashtag #safesupply trended across Canada, showing previously unseen support for human rights-based solutions to the overdose epidemic.

While a politician might fear "career suicide," the true costs are measured in human lives. It's only through vocal public support and public pressure that politicians lose their fear and Canada sees a future where safe supply becomes the new status quo. Not a status quo that normalizes alarming rates of overdose death, but one that normalizes the human rights and dignity of people who use drugs.

Canadian hospitals reported 138 cases of lost fentanyl in one 15-month period, federal records show

Canadian hospitals reported 138 cases of lost fentanyl in one 15-month period, federal records show Vials and patches of fentanyl were reported missing from Canadian hospitals at a rate of about twice a week over a 15-month period ending on Jan. 1, 2018, according to federal records obtained by the Star. In total, the records reveal 138 incidents of lost fentanyl, including cases involving the even stronger derivatives remifentanil and sufentanil in patch and liquid forms. It’s not clear how many of the highly dangerous opioids reported missing from hospital shelves were stolen or thrown out, as the causes for the disappearance are not be captured in the figures.

More from HuffPost Canada:

  • BLOG: Addicts Are Not Having Fun. We Are Simply Trying To Survive.
  • BLOG: Dear Liberal Party: To Help End Overdose Death Crisis, Decriminalize Now
  • Advocates Push For Clean Drug Supply As Overdose Crisis Rages On

Last week's protests sparked a conversation that must continue up until election day and far beyond it, human lives being more important than any political ambition. They were a wake-up call for the Canadian public, but if you have used illicit drugs, or know someone that does, you've heard the sirens blaring for years.

Also on HuffPost:

When Politicians Withhold A Safe Drug Supply, Canadians Die © Provided by Oath Inc. This article originally appeared on HuffPost Canada.
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