Overdose deaths in BC have reached epidemic standards. According to the BC government, there were 1,489 suspected drug overdose deaths in BC in 2018 alone. The BC Centre on Substance Use understands that it is next to impossible to completely eliminate recreational drug use. That being said, they are focused on minimizing the number of deaths caused by overdose. As a way to combat this, the BC Centre on Substance Abuse (BCCSU) has suggested regulating heroin sales as a way to combat overdose deaths and the drug trade.
According to BCCSU, this proposed heroin compassion club for fentanyl-addicted users will provide people access to non-fentanyl altered heroin. The goal of this program would be two-fold and would attempt to reduce overdose deaths along with undercutting organized crime and profits that come from the unregulated fentanyl market.
This regulation of heroin sales would work along the same lines as cannabis compassion clubs and medication buyers clubs that emerged during the AIDS crisis. They would provide access to uncut heroin in order to drastically reduce overdose deaths.
The report was written by a group of experts including public health researchers, addiction medicine specialists, and people with lived addiction experiences. This report states that a cooperative approach in which heroin could be restricted to members and legally obtained from a pharmaceutical manufacturer would not only reduce death but also undercut organized crime.
With the model, addicts would buy their personal amount of heroin after completing an eligibility screening by a healthcare provider. This screening would also allow healthcare providers to intervene and offer free addiction treatment as well as access to recovery services and public health.
This report comes in response to years of failed intervention tactics. With violent crime organizes reaping the rewards of fentanyl-laced heroin, an organization like this would attempt to eliminate the billions of dollars that are annually laundered.
If this is proven to be safe and effective, the regulated heroin compassion club model could present a strategy for regulating other illegal substances. According to CBC, a vision such as this could be possible within the next six months.