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  Friday, Dec 8, 2017 

POV News

Drug War Failing

VANDU: Communities need economic and social support

By Aiyanas Ormond, VANDU


he Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users (VANDU) opposes the proposed budget increase of $11 million (4.2%) for the Vancouver Police Department (VPD). In particular VANDU is outraged at the VPD’s request for $700,000 to build an unnecessary ‘drug containment facility’.

For many years the VPD has continued to increase their budget despite falling rates of violent crime. Advocates for poor people contend that the increased budget is used to over-police and criminalize poor people and pursue failed drug war policies.

“The City of Vancouver keeps pouring money into policing when our communities need economic and social supports not more police,” says Aiyanas Ormond, a community organizer with VANDU. “We are over-policed and under-protected. More funding for police means more criminalization for us. In 2016 we saw record numbers of arrests for drug possession in Vancouver, continuing the failed war on drugs policies, even in the context of a horrible overdose epidemic.”

The $700,000 for a ‘drug containment facility’ is particularly upsetting for VANDU, given the need for resources to deal with the overdose epidemic and the negative role that the police continue to play by criminalizing people who use drugs.

“A $700,000 drug containment facility is wasteful and unnecessary,” says Ormond. “A July 2017 statement by the American College of Medical Toxicology states that the risk of clinically significant exposure to fentanyl for emergency responders is extremely low. They outline how that low risk can be managed with low-tech nitrile and n95 respirator. Drugs are being tested for tested for fentanyl by health care providers on a daily basis without such costly and unnecessary infrastructure.”

“We need public education, health services and economic supports, not more police,” says VANDU Vice-President Hugh Lampkin. “This money could be put toward services to help people who use drugs survive this OD epidemic. It could be used for real drug education and support programs for young people. I could be used for housing or other economic supports for our communities.”



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