UBC Faculty Research and Publications

The drug war must end: The right to life, liberty and security of the person during the COVID-19 pandemic for people who use drugs Maynard, Russ; Jozaghi, Ehsan


Since the start of the opioid epidemic in 2016, the Downtown Eastside community of Vancouver, Canada, has lost many pioneering leaders, activists and visionaries to the war on drugs. The Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users (VANDU), the Western Aboriginal Harm Reduction Society (WAHRS), and the British Columbia Association People on Opiate Maintenance (BCAPOM) are truly concerned about the increasing overdose deaths that have continued since 2016 and have been exacerbated by the novel coronavirus (SARS-COVID-19) despite many unique and timely harm reduction announcements by the British Columbia (B.C.) government. Some of these unique interventions in B.C., although in many cases only mere announcements with limited scope, are based on the philosophy of safe supply to illegal street drugs. Despite all the efforts during the pandemic, overdose deaths have spiked by over 100% compared to the previous year. Therefore, we urge the Canadian federal government, specifically the Honorable Patty Hajdu, the federal Minister of Health, to decriminalize simple possession immediately by granting exemption under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. The Canadian federal government has a moral obligation under Sect. 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to protect the basic human rights of marginalized Canadians.

Item Media

Item Citations and Data


Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)