An organisation set up to protect drug users called The Drug User Liberation Front staged a protest in Vancouver on Tuesday, June 23, in response to a record-high 170 fatal overdoses being recorded in British Columbia last month.

Doses of cocaine that had been tested and confirmed free of dangerous impurities such as fentanyl, carfentanyl and benzodiazepines were given out at the march in the city’s Downtown Eastside.

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Andrea Woo, journalist at The Globe and Mail, was on the scene and photographed one of the samples and shared it on Twitter.

Organisers had planned to give out free heroin as well, but found the city’s supply to be so contaminated that no safe batches could be located.

A British Columbia Coroners Service report found the record-high fatalities in May were mostly caused by “extreme” fentanyl contamination. There have been more than 5,545 deaths from overdoses in the province since the start of 2016.

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The Drug User Liberation Front is newly founded, and calling on the Canadian provinces government to enact a number of measures to protect drug users and reduce the number of deaths from overdoses. These 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.

Speakers at the event in Vancouver including Erica Thomson of the Yukon Association of Drug Wars Survivors, Garth Mullins from the Association of People on Opiate Maintenance, Simona Marsh of the Vancouver area Network of Drug Users, and the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition’s Donald MacPherson.


Patrick Hinton is Mixmag's Digital Features Editor, follow him on Twitter

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