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Episode 16: Goodbye Dave


We're working on an episode about the housing crisis during the pandemic but a couple of weeks ago. Crackdown lost another member of our editorial board Dave Murray. We can't all get together to mourn them right now to remember him and to tell stories like we did with cherise last year. I know we'll get to do it eventually when the quarantine lists but until then we'll do it here I'm Garth mullins this. Crackdown episodes sixty by day. Dave Murray was veteran drug user activists. He was a mentor to the next generation of organized. Like me he's pretty much the reason why there's a prescription heroin program in Vancouver today and he was our friend. Dave was an intellectual with taped up glasses in a newspaper tucked under his arm But he was also bold as hell. He helped US launch this podcast. In fact Dave was here even before we name. He was a soft spoken guy and he made sure crackdown got off on the right foot. Dave used heroin for decades. He was part of these two prescription heroin trials here in Vancouver. Their names became so familiar. They were like people. We knew Naomi and Salman. Naomi was the North American opiate medication initiative and Sallie Mae was the study to assess long-term opioid medication effectiveness. And they found what you'd figured they'd find prescription. Heroin worked great but when the studies were done people were just kicked back to the street grinding for dope as usual so dave organized with other patients these studies he was part of a legal challenge to force government to let them keep getting prescribed heroin even when the studies were over. Dave broke a path that will one day mean. Everyone wired down can get prescription heroin. More recently Dave's been sick. He was heartbroken to lose his brother in two thousand eighteen overdose I spoke with Dean Wilson Editorial Board and Livingston both close friends of Dave. You know I. I know that Dave died of I don't think you call it. Natural causes but not of Cova did not have an overdose and I don't WanNA share his private details on the on the podcast but last year his brother less who who we all also new Died of overdose. And I think that hit Dave pretty hard. I'll tell ya I tell you. I told this to somebody. I'm the guy who told him that. His brother died and the minute. I told Dave that his brother was gone. Dave started melting and he melted everyday until auspey. He was honors Him we were the brothers who are sort of the black sheep and we both felt that he said he. I think he said to me brother died. I sit I sit the exact same thing when my brother died the sentinel scare or whatever. We're calling it now. Defending all traces. So there is a really really devastated. This community this is Dave Murray in two thousand seventeen. Many many people have died. Everybody know somebody's is dieter there. We used to pitchers in the wallet. Van Do the people that weren't realized third to keep up with it nowadays You you texted me that you guys were on death. Watch I think you call. Yeah Yeah you just try and sit and you Susan plates music. And what did you guys? What did she play whenever she keeps? I don't know this old stuff Bob Dylan stuff and you know I remember. I think it was the you and me Dave and less were in a car. Going somewhere and Less was driving and Dave was like kind of piloting the Radio. I think or something. Like he was telling us he was either tuning the radio or telling us what song what where he wanted to be tuners like he had he was his pretty quiet but definite ideas about what music should be on in the car that foghorn be coming from. I was just always a bit taken back. Because he he pull up. Pick me up and off we go. The greatest thing was. Hey let's go to mission and see if we can get a needle in Michigan and we just take the long route around and he was always up for these poor public health people if you went into the public health Office and in New West at the time they all just starts walking backwards from you. You know what I mean. I know you think yeah you know public health right. You know. There's little things that come to your mind these little things that you've you forget you know you remember this wise guy with the newspaper and the glasses and stuff but then I remember it a stimulus conference in Evanston where we were. Two years ago it was cold. It still BERTA and he didn't bring a coat you know. I said to him do you. Do you want to borrow this my my code? I don't know you it'll look like a tent on me or something just like this little little weird memories of this kind of Flustered professor of moment. Or something. You know yeah he has. He has them quite hot. Is there any? Is there anything like that? That you've been thinking about this week. Any little strange moment. David is really closeness was over heroine and We were both old timers and We were both sick and tired of one day. Maybe not being as well as we could in the morning and and you know for getting together so we made a pact that him and I would phone each other every morning which we did for about eight years and made sure that both of us refine the takes the day on and Sometimes you know I was into 'em perk grant. Sometimes he wasn't sure a couple. It doesn't matter it. We made that deal and and it's SORTA cement our friendship because we always knew that we we actually had somebody we could rely on and I know that's not a popular story for outside or but to to old junkies both in their sixties. It meant a lot and then secured a friendship that You know that that far. None favorite Dave moment. The weirdest thing I ever saw him do is back do. I don't know why we've gone out to the back. I think is cops. Were in the parking lot in the back of and do not usually get just. We better go up there. What can we help? You was something so we started chatting to. Vp guys but he grabs his big handful of law enforcement against prohibition leaflets or pamphlets and he starts to try and recruit. These costs to join law. Enforcement Against Prohibition you can see them lean forward and yeah they take the pamphlet and then he's going. Well you know make policing a lot easier to a or and I'm like I you know I just kind of freeze and just think Holy Shit. This is tableau because he had Sort of fearless manner about him. You know he just You know and then if he could get them chatting about heroin prescription or like you know that was his methodology. He start working on people and he was willing to do the not preaching to the choir to talk to people who had never really thought about it. Anyway he goes. You guys live in Surrey. Don't you and then they both really looked startled and he just guessing I think most police can you know The great thing about hanging out what? She's just laughing the whole time and I don't know why it is so funny to hang out with him. I just don't quite grasp it is hard to describe as humor I really want to let people know what he was like. You know and I I struggle for the right words like I want people to like. Howard how are you going to remember him just as my friend just just as my friend prayer onto has it? Sounds like a good deal to me. You know Free Dope three times a day. That was what would appealed to me at the time and I I was. I think I was homeless. At the time I lived in hotel room. You know it was very good living conditions that I was in so I jumped at the idea. And this is Dave talking about how he first found out about Naomi. The North American opiate medication initiative. The interview was recorded. Twenty seventeen by Gordon caddock and Travis slupic back then they were working on a documentary about prescription heroin in Vancouver. Did you think like is this too? Good to be true No I is kind of aware of of of heroin assisted treatment and I read something about it once or twice. You know like the that had been tried. And there was a Program in Europe. Read a bit of a needle park and in Switzerland and and the and how they they started a treatment program around that and Kind of always. I was happy to Louis here. You know they were. They were doing it. You know here and that it would be you know would be good for me anyway and probably help others to what they don. They've gone to. Switzerland then copied the Swiss study. You know they kinda like copied. It called the medical medical is model where you have to go into clinic and do this ten minute we then and do your shot then wait another ten minutes. Tv observed you know like Allowed to leave the premise. You know it's It's the way they they they. I tried to do it in Switzerland and was called the legacy. The medical is model. I was around when Naomi was just starting up and I. I couldn't believe it. I was just like prescription. Heroin I like. I was in a state of disbelief of our it. What what did you think of that time? Can you remember well? I have a very long history with me on me because I was in a. I think we were in Cleveland. Ohio at the was it used to be called the North American harm reduction conference known about Naomi for years. She was a conference with the study was being pitched. Originally the study was supposed to happen in a handful of cities in both the US and Canada. It's going to have Baltimore. I don't know if New York was on the list Montreal. Toronto thank hoover. I think that was maybe the total but Goldfinger didn't happen in the US and this is the year before we started van do so then they only trail in its infancy where the proposals were being written up. And it was being lobbied for Was Nineteen Ninety. Seven nineteen ninety. Six was like eight years before anybody got the first prescribed hit well. I'll give them an A. for persistence. Oh Gee was a complicated recruitment. Believe IT WAS. You had to be tried. Being an detox tried method at least two two or three times and having failed failed at it and the reason they turn me down. The first time is because I was I was I'd only been off Methadone for like Two months and yet to be off method on six months or Israel strict pretty strict requirement on on who they wanted they never liked methadone. Which is what got him into Naomi and had failed at it twice and was able to get the records to show that. And that's how strict now me whereas they had to have all your records. They have to say your birth certificate. I mean this was a thing like with Dave because he was born in Scotland. They wanted all. The originals of everything is extremely stringent and. Many many people couldn't get on if you were under twenty one if you hadn't failed it method on twice and we're able to prove it. You had to live. When that a certain number of kilometers main and hastings on and on and on it went and So it was very very slow uptake because we succeeded in getting thousands of people on Methadone the year before they started recruiting for Naomi. And you couldn't be on Methadone and apply to be part of the Naomi I think they had gone to their ethics or whatever and he had a pretty strict requirement of not. You know not interrupting treatment in Pro's progress you know kind of deal where if somebody was on Methadone and which we're doing what they considered quote unquote well That they didn't want to remove them from that situation they would have held. That wasn't ethical or it wasn't right to do skewed. Ethics are built into a whole thing. Because they have this drug that you need and power over you and a lot of ways you know. Half of the people were randomized to oral method on and the other half were at. Ejecta some people were going to get the lauded some people are gonNA get injectable diesel morphine. And after the People that Control Advocacy Colin. We're GONNA get oral method on. You didn't know until the day that you went to the clinic anyway. I got there that day and they told me you're GonNa get the you know the up three shots a day and and they titrate treated you on it. You know you get a little bit and then a little more a little more over if I three days and then you get to save those for you that you didn't follow over and knock yourself out you know and And that was it. I did that every year. Once people were getting their prescription heroin things changed a lot. Many got housing found work and connected with family. There were less hassles from the COPS and more connection with Healthcare Services. Dave to he didn't have to spend every waking moment. Just trying to be well Dave and the participants just WANNA medicine. But this wasn't a real clinic. It was an academic trial. The researchers wanted to prove something that Dave already knew to be true it. His life was a lot better when he didn't have to grind for money and outrun dope sickness and after the trial ended. Everyone was afraid of what would happen next. A look of of hope around the clinic when when we all started the goal there was that. Hey this maybe Could continue you know that it wasn't just going to be for the the the one year period you know. Maybe that the powers that be would see success of this program and you know it'd be well the success of the study in turn it into fulltime which was which was the hope of everybody. They're actually the people who were involved in the program and people that work there and you know the doctors. You're you're you're exposed to you. Know they work there. Everybody was kind of hoping for the same thing we all knew and they made us sign all kinds of paper sing that we understood that it was going to was going to stop. You know like a one time but nobody believed that you know we we but no. Everybody thought that they wouldn't do that to you. Know they wouldn't put somebody on a drug that was working in Knin Smash it away from you and later on. When I started the now patients to gathering together we did tons of research and all that and that was. He didn't do that. If you believe in drug studies anywhere in the world where the drug was working for people who didn't take it away from you was they had to keep giving it to people you know as part of the only accords. The all the countries signed to protect people who were involved in drug studies. We were not treated that way. I was kind of like frantic after the program because they didn't program wasn't GonNa Continue. I didn't WanNA take method on. I tried it and it wasn't it wasn't Is Back on the street doing a lot of heroin again? The heroine wasn't working. I was doing a lot of pills or in anything to just keep the edge off I ended up selling everything I own eventually. And first month or two just ending out the homeless again completely destitute. Then I went into then. I tried to kick drugs. I went into a detox. Tried ended up leaving there and then I went into another detox. GotTa there and went into treatment. Centers stayed there for a little while took off. I mean I. I went through a really rough period after Naomi soon between Naomi and solemn. Starting you know that was when we organized the Naomi patients and it was at the Urging of of Bandou and Livingston Pivot Legal. You know try to help find the patients Brunei. Omi You know there might be something we can do to help them illegally or whatever to try and get redress dates not the Kinda guy who's GonNa do that right like in a way. He do it but I hadn't met him when he was in the Naomi Project and I kept. We kept trying to hold me. Oh me meetings. If you're on her own prescription come to do got a stipend. We have a snack. There's a lawyer there. We kept one to talk to them about this. Because I thought that They should be able to turn like what kind of chump gets a heroin prescription trial in their town and they're an organizer and they can't turn that into an actual program. That's how I looked at it. So it was declared defeat on the whole thing and then along comes day. Used to be in the program. He knows everything and turned out. He was really smart. I wouldn't have known that but he's totally willing to come and help me organize all this stuff. So we're going out and we're doing these very formative meetings of of Drug Users in Surrey and we're doing formative meetings of drug users Abbotsford and So he picked me up and we'd go but we were going at least twice a month usually three times a month to Surrey at least twice a month usually three times a month to Abbotsford and that's a lot of driving. I was the one who kept saying you know. I'm pretty sure you guys can sue the government. That's what I kept saying. Like you know an armchair lawyer. I have no idea but you know people are always sound very confident about your legal advice to me an well so but I guess you convinced him on one of these long car rides to start organizing because what he thought he thought he sure as fuck wasn't gonNA DO HIMSELF. That's for sure and so we went around. I walked around finding dog and those come on up to the van Dude on Saturday. And you know a little get together and see what's going on and give you a stipend you know few bucks for your pocket. Do you remember the the transition of Dave the patient to the activist? Yeah I soared. Do I sorted do People don't realize that day was a really nice guy but he was a bit of an old curmudgeon. You know what I mean. I don't know people even know what that means. Nowadays you he was an old trick he really was just like me. And and and That's not in a bad way And and what he started seeing was wrong and he started saying things about it. That's wrong and you shouldn't be saying let or doing that. You Know Me. He really became an old curmudgeon. That way where he wouldn't accept this or untruths easily when we did start the I. Npa needing he's got such a kick out. I thought that was the funniest thing to call. This is the Naomi Patient's association which coincidentally is the same acronym as the right wing municipal party in Vancouver which is the nonpartisan association. Yeah so we're going to hold a meeting. It's going to be on Saturdays at Van and I it it might still be at Saturday's and then So baked that's my little thing you know This is real. They could cake. And that and it sorta signifies that if you come to this meeting there's cake and five dollars that's good anyway in. They come and we have very few people. We just kept saying spread. The word spread the word. Spread the word. So we're doing really well. Seven image really gone downhill and weren't doing what we're doing well at all Some of them had And died and were there any. We're not here anymore Some of them. We just couldn't find it was only one hundred of his. The exact numbers ninety nine people who had received the injectable and up finding fifty. Ethically what happened to them at the? Npa they were realizing they knew they'd been violated but they didn't want to get too mad because they heard more heroin coming and they wanted to hear what's to come so it's they took a much more sort of okay. We're not going to block this thing. But we'RE GONNA make sure it doesn't fuck with people like this one did so we went to many meetings. We met with him several times. They would take the Naomi patients make sure the people that were in Naomi were were track on today. The next study and agreed to they agreed to all those things we asked them for it. Of course at the last minute they didn't they said No. No we can do it like that. You know for most of the people that wanted to get in. I think they were. They got in the second study. There was no Oral medication involved and the salaries said he was either. You've got one or two drugs and both were injectable. Sort of injecting. It was neither God there. Injectable the Lauda or injectable heroin. Morphine this time on the study was over each patient applied for compassionate access to prescription heroin through a special government program who is called the special access program. Which was I think it was set up in many years ago. Maybe in the fifties or sixties as kind of end of life Drug like we're we're drugs weren't available in Canada could be imported into Canada and used for you know people that were didn't need it that they thought might work is on an experimental basis. I'm desperate I'm clearly going to die. I'm SAM willing to try to experimental drug and my reward would be if it works for me. They don't cut me off of it. Oh thanks for help boot go die. They just say We'LL GET COMPASSIONATE ACCESS AND I. It's got a number of names. So that's what we call it. I think special access I duNNo. Whatever it just means that if you've been Kind enough and generous enough to offer yourself up to the subject of a human trial that at the end of that trial if the drug that you were given works for you you stay on it. Well hell that's clear health. Can they started to give as agreed to give the drug to people under special access program and one day? The Health Minister decided that that was wrong. And she put a stop to it right that Rhona. What's her name? Rona Ambrose the Minister of Health under Harper or one of them minister she gets up and says we're not here To you know. Get people on heroin and She she says all compassionate access exists except for heroin. See The thing is considering the government that power to run. The government didn't recognize drug addiction as a medical issue. It was a whole different ballgame for them. It was a crime issue. We were criminals taking drugs. Which wasn't based on any kind of fact that was based on ideology in her morality. Or whatever you know. It wasn't based on really and the other than But it's stupid. It's a new law. You know what immediately ask a three year old and they tell you. Oh you can't do that to some people and not do it to other people and that's when we went into court and got a temporary junction in May of twenty fourteen. Supreme Court of Canada ordered the government to get out of the way. The court said provide all necessary regulatory approvals permits and or exemptions required to secure access to the deicing. Orphee Dave and the other study participants had one you as anybody at the clinic there. Those still just you'll be so thankful thankful that they're in Atlantic and then get them alive. Most of them would say that they would probably be dead today. If it wasn't for that you know they were probably picked up here of a drug and then and died out there so we are. We are the luckiest junkies. That's for sure I realized to Dave's immediate legacy. Just at least in my life is going to be. You know we we. We pushed these government officials to give us expanded prescribing during the covert nineteen epidemic. Right like so that you can get you know Ben's Os and Dilaudid and that sort of stuff and you know they're they're not committing to let this exist forever in fact it's got a sunset date you know in September. It's it's going to get turned off unless something happens as we're going to be in the same kind of fight that the Dave was that if something works people they shouldn't get cut off it. You know when I guess we're GONNA be You know relying on a lot of days work about compassionate access and that sort of thing. Yeah it'll be you know we're gonNA miss them for this white sure Thanks thanks very much. Take care of yourself a safe journey home dave Take Care Buddy Crackdown is produced on the territories. The Musk William squamish sleigh with nations editorial board is Simona Marsh. Shell Castor Greg. Fess Jeff Loudon Dean Wilson Laura Shaver Al Fowler Cherise Gun. Rip cherise and Dave. Murray by Dave you can read obituaries by Travis. Slupic and also Guy Fella Dean Wilson and Matt. Bon in Livingston has created a facebook page with lots of Dave speeches. Thanks to Gordon Catholic. And Travis loop for tape of. Dave gathered in twenty seventeen for a documentary called the heroine clinic. All the links to these things are on our web page you can support us at Patriotair dot com slash. Crackdown pot special. Thank you to our Patriot. Supporters new ones. And those who've been with us from the start. You help us keep going. Crackdown senior producer is Samphan. Our producers are Alexander Kim and Lisa Hail or science adviser is Ryan McNeil Assistant Professor and Director of harm reduction research at the Yale School of Medicine. I'm Garth Monz host writer and executive producer. You can follow me on twitter at Garth mullins. Original score written produced by Samphan James Ash and I are theme song was written by me and Sam with accompaniment. By Dave Jen's and Ben Oppenheimer you also heard a bit of a day's favorite songs van Morrison's into the mystic. We make this podcast with funds from the Caning Institutes of Health Research and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and from our patriots borders. We'll be celebrating Dave's life once a quarantine is lifted. Stay safe keepsakes

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