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‘Safe supply’ handed out in Maple Ridge park

Part of province-wide lobby for prescription narcotics
A person is handed a package of heroin, said to be safe from fentanyl, in a Maple Ridge park. (Special to The News)

A street outreach worker has handed out packets of what she said are fentanyl-free narcotics in a Maple Ridge park.

Tracy Scott, of the Maple Ridge Street Outreach Society, advocates that providing a safe supply to drug users is a moral choice, and it would keep people who are addicted alive.

She gave drug users in a downtown park heroin and cocaine on Tuesday, while offering a message that was video recorded.

Scott anticipates her civil disobedience will not be appreciated in Maple Ridge.

“Our town is so full of hate and divide, but this is the right thing to do,” she said.

And it is being done in towns across B.C. on Tuesday, as part of a larger protest. Three groups: Drug User Liberation Front, Moms Stop the Harm and Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users are distributing a safe supply of heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine, to commemorate the lives lost and help increase safety for drug users.

“This action demonstrated the life-saving potential of a community-led response to the overdose crisis in Canada as a necessary alternative to prohibition and the unregulated drug supply,” said a press release from the organizers. “These distributed drugs were tested via FTIR spectrometry and immunoassay, and are free of fentanyl, fentanyl analogues, benzodiazepines, and many other harmful adulterants.”

They said compassion clubs, organized by users to distribute safe drugs, “are a common sense and rational response to drug poisoning deaths.”

Scott said it is important to show how easily people can be given drugs that will not kill them, and it will happen in numerous cities across the province on Tuesday.

She said it’s a simple message to government: “Why can’t you do this?”

“Keep people safe,” she urged. “They won’t be using fentanyl, and they won’t die.”

The packages had the logo of the Drug User Liberation Front.

This action takes place on International Overdose Awareness Day, and a day after the BC Coroner’s service released a report showing that 1,011 people died from illicit drug overdoses in the first six months of 2021.

READ ALSO: Overdose death toll tops 1,000 in first 6 months of 2021: BC Coroners Service

Last Wednesday, first responders went to eight overdose calls in Maple Ridge, and the BC Ambulance Service reported they have gone to 555 overdose calls in Maple Ridge so far in 2021 – compared to 492 all of last year.

READ ALSO: Maple Ridge fourth highest in the province for overdose calls on Wednesday

The number of fatal overdoses in Maple Ridge is on pace to be the worst year yet. Through the first five months of the year, there were 23 illicit drug toxicity deaths in Maple Ridge, compared to 37 for all of last year.

There had been 13 deaths in 2019, which was the lowest number in six years.

“It (the coroner’s report) really upsets me, because we’ve been working for six years at this, and we had it coming down until COVID hit,” said Scott, noting that the pandemic brought an increase in drug toxicity.

“It’s needless – these people don’t need to die,” she said.

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Neil Corbett

About the Author: Neil Corbett

Neil Corbett has been a journalist for more than 30 years, the past decade with the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News.
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