Heroin, British Columbia, DC discussed on The Big Story
There was no overdose situation. Well while a pandemic it you know we could have worked on safe supply years and years ago. How is it that governments are so slow in acting here and I think you know the fact that it took this pandemic for even British Columbia arguably the most progressive government in North America on these things it took a covert nineteen for them to act? I think is sort of really underlines. Just how easy these changes could be but how reluctant governments have been to do them. Has there been any reaction Either federally or in other provinces to move DC has made any sense that other provinces might try to follow suit or try something different of their own On the federal level. You know the federal government very quietly made these things possible over the last couple of years. They've been slowly changing. The regulations reducing the red tape in the regulatory burden that would allow provinces and cities to do exactly that sort of thing but they haven't really encouraged it right. They've made it possible if jurisdictions want to do it but they haven't really taken leadership on this front so it's sort of a mixed bag there. I don't think you're GONNA see the federal government start pushing for more expanded access to opioids for for drug users But at the very least they've gotten out of the way so that jurisdictions who want to do this can but you know if you're going to start feeling optimistic about Governments actually taking action here. There's so many cases of governments actually going backwards Throughout the United States president trump and his attorney general William Bar have made it harder for safe consumption sites which is really the base minimum. You can do to reduce Overdoses they've made it harder for safe consumption sites to open and they've threatened at criminal penalty for those who try to open them Some groups have tried to fight that. But you're really seeing a mixed bag of success in Canada Premium Jason Kenney. Now BERTA has has sort of sworn to try to shut down some Some overdose prevention sites. So you know it's not really heartening the direction we're going we've dealt with this for so many decades we've already gone through waves of overdose. Crises and yet governments still seems so convinced that they can police their way out of this problem this time if there's more money for addiction clinics that will solve everything that will suddenly unlock the key to addiction. Then I think it's a fool's errand and I think governments know this that don't want to spend political capital on drug users that is that is the baseline thing here. The science the evidence tells us that OPIOID EGAS THERAPIES. Safe consumption sites and handful of other Solutions around address. Apply save lives. There are peer reviewed studies about this. That are very convincing. That basically are unanimous that these measures work and yet governments have been putting their head in the sand and pretending that they don't exist. All that stuff is just so frustrating that I do WanNa get back to to see because Lord knows we could use some positive steps right now so if if this shows the results that it has in other places in the world what comes next if BC's leading the way on this when you talk to people like Garth you know this is a big step. What's the next step? So this allows for opioid alternatives or opioids. That are not heroin or null to be prescribed. Patients You know what would be the really progressive and sensible? Next step I think would be to just give up on the idea that we can ever really restrict the supply of Heroin Sentinel Governments have been trying for a century to crack down on the supply of illicit drugs. And you know what things drugs are. More readily available than they ever were. We will never improve interdiction and policing to the point where we're going to stop people from getting the drugs they want. We should abandon that idea if you think the police will solve this problem. They're not going to. The police can do a great many things here in terms of going after violent criminal gangs that profit off of the drug industry but one of the best things we can do but for public health both for public safety and go after criminal gangs is just to start figuring out ways we can get some of these drugs to people in a sensible In a sensible way there had been conversations in Mexico about growing opium poppies and cultivating you know opioids or heroin For basically clinical use. Like what we're talking about a British Columbia right now you. It's really high time we figure out how to plug those two things together where we can cut out the cartels and the drug dealers and the criminal gangs and start. Prescribing people. Heroin opioids if they are addicted You know I think the measures. Nbc are a step in that direction. But we're not there yet. We're still trying to give them pharmaceuticals that You know we hope will be a good replacement for heroin and no but some drug users. I'm sorry I'm just GonNa keep using heroin so to that end. What are you GonNa do about that? Are you GonNa let them die? Are you going to just keep reviving them as they overdose? Because there's Nolan their supply they don't know about or are you going to start figuring out a way where you can provide them with the heroin. They're gonNA use anyway in a sensible way that maybe supports farmers who otherwise turned to a life of to turn to supplying the cartels in Mexico that cut out a lot of those gangs than actually you know. Let doctors have some oversight but how users are using those drugs this requires sort of abandoning everything we think we know about You know policing and drug addiction but these are the things that seem to work And I think British Columbia is getting there. Were still a couple miles away if not tens of miles away you know but I think we're slowly getting there and I think seismic shift in terms of how people talk about these issues. Now you have health authorities in British Colombia Ontario talking openly about drug decriminalization as unnecessary next step on the prime minister is being asked about it quite often. He's still basically says it's not on the table but you're hearing people talk about this openly former health minister. Jane Philpott talks openly about probably the need to move to be criminalization. So I think you're seeing such a huge shift in the way we talk about these things that it's no longer inconceivable that we could see some form of decriminalization or lead or legalize to supply of some of these drugs in the next five or ten years given all that then is it. Is it safe to say it would be difficult for B. C? To put this genie back in the bottle When we eventually do conquer the pandemic or along with a host of actions that governments across the country have taken. Is it something that expires when the current emergency does? I don't think you put the genie back in the bottle. I think you're gonNA start seeing positive outcomes from this right and you'll sort of things we've been building for many years. I'm and I don't think we're going to want to put it back in the bottle. I don't think people are going to see negative outcomes from giving heroin users or Morris steady and safe supply of some of the opioids. They use. I think anything you'RE GONNA see. Fewer people overdosing on on the streets. You're going to see more of these people. Getting into the workforce and you getting back into being Contributing members of the economy. I think you're going to see people who You know who who no longer are waiting in line up at the pharmacy for Methadone. I think you're going to see just a general improvement of a lot of these people's lives and I think that for people might be the sort of key that unlocks the reality that this is the solution not arresting them not trying to force them into addiction. Counseling that you know he's often ineffective and I think a suite of solutions that really let people either get off the drugs. They don't WanNa be on it anymore. That people get onto the safe supply. That's not causing overdoses or let them use the drugs. They WANNA use but in a sensible more regimented way. I think when people see that. That's working You know they're gonNA come around to it. And alternatively some people might not but I don't think they're going to see things get worse and I think as long as things that aren't getting worse you have a lot of political capital to keep moving forward even if it's really slow and steady while you obviously wish it didn't come From such an awful situation but It's good that something is finally moved us down this road. Yeah I you know I think five years ago I didn't. I don't think I would have assumed that I would have been this sort of Convinced that legalization decriminalization this sort of safe supply mechanism would be the way to go. But you know I've come around to this from reading the literature from talking to drug users from talking to doctors from talking to epidemiologists and I'm convinced I have not seen or read anything spoken to anyone that has disabused of the notion that this is the way to go. If anything I've just become more convinced the you know the more I walk through the downtown Eastside. The more I talked to people who have been using heroin for for twenty some odd years and who are finding that You know they were on death. Store better now can coming around because They've managed to find a steady supply of heroin or because they've they've moved onto to oral. Opiates so I think you know I'm I'm heartened that the the solution might be in front of us. I guess we'll we'll see when this is all over. Thanks so much for taking the time just thanks. Justin Ling has been covering the OPIOID crisis for a while. We expect he will stay on it as this develops. That was the big story. 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