Category Archives: vs harm

choosing death

that line is about to bust through the graph.

there is no reason to hope that it will change course, as the situation stands now. hope is actually not helpful.

this is the provincial coroner’s update on illicit drug toxicity deaths in british columbia to the end of February 2021.


remember in last month’s update, it was 165 deaths in january? nine have been added. 155 in february, for an average of 165.

take a deep breath and also remember those who are uncounted, those who suffered catastrophic neurological harm from oxygen deprivation, those who survived but will never recover and are uncounted

its so much worse than 2017 or 2018. and when 2017 or 2018 is your closest comparison and the provincial government takes a wait-and-see approach – thinks they can wait it out – that tells me that they don’t understand this at all, and that we are all going to die.


this means over 2000 deaths in 2021 in BC.

look at these other “Unnatural” deaths – add them up and its still not close. “unnatural” means “preventable”, for the most part. but as ours are deaths caused by drug policy (not drugs), these deaths are the predictable consequences of choices we have made, and continue to make:

Comparison to Other Common Causes of Unnatural Deaths from 2010 to 2020

these are social murders, mass killings by structural violence, amplified in these COVIDtimes:

“when society places hundreds …in such a position that they inevitably meet a too early and an unnatural death, one which is quite as much a death by violence as that by the sword or bullet, murder it remains” (Engels 1845) on Social Murder

stop murdering the younger generations, stop killing your children, think of the children.

38.2% (2 of every 5) of the people who died under the age of 45 died from drug poisoning.

holy fucken hell.

look at northern health.

This map illustrating the regional mortality rates for overdose/poisoning deaths in The Best Place on Earth is almost meaningless as almost every region’s rate is above the highest threshold.

almost half of the deaths in the Vancouver Coastal region occur in “other” residences: supportive housing, SROs, shelters… that’s the DTES: we must mandate harm reduction as a principle of building design and housing management – as part of what accessibility means. people reject this housing because they don’t want to die. it is not accessible. we must change this.

“More illicit drug toxicity deaths occurred during the days following income assistance payment (Wed-Sun) than all other days in 2020-21.”

except last april. the first month of the $300 topup.

raise the rates and stop cheque day (for anyone who wants their $ on a schedule they choose) raise the damn rates and stop dumping all the legal money on all the poor people on the same day.


was the $ “used to open 17 new supervised consumption services and 12 new inhalation services in communities hit the hardest by the overdose crisis”?

and where is the safe supply. because every day 5+ people die, you dont announce their deaths solemnly, and you do less. you know “treatment” just means dignified health care, right? you seem more interested in the unregulated treatment indu$try.

today is day 1,806 of the overdose emergency. april 14 will be its fifth year. dont say you’re heartbroken and do nothing. it doesnt have to be this way.

traffic pylon in alley; "I Miss All My Friends, RIP Shaggy, 1993-2019, Dec 9" written on it.

there’s a few other things to say but lets take a few minutes


“In February, we lost 155 people to a toxic illicit drug supply in B.C. They were taken too soon. It’s a heartbreaking loss. Front-line workers, caregivers, families and peers deserve our gratitude as they respond to overdoses and care for loved ones during a pandemic that has made everything worse.

i dont think you understand whats happening here. i feel sick.

We brought deaths down before and we’ll do it again.

oh you dont understand this at all.


please tell your MLA that you dont want the daily human ritual executions of 5+ people to continue expand Safe Supply through regulation now & Decriminalize, amend the police act. raise the rates to the *poverty line* and yeah housing now.

over 100 crappy toys in a crap tree  the Regent.

i am scared for all you.

in the aftertimes you are going to be messed up. so will the youngers. you will suffer from anxiety and insomnia and loneliness and other mental health problems, and chronic, searing pain.

because you are human you will want to feel better, or even good. you will want drugs.

you dont want to go through what we have been through. you dont want this.

this tree broke from the weight of the toys, each one memorializing someone who had died.

please write your MLA. this emergency cant go on.

Stop Killing Everyone

the federal government is introducing criminal justice something-something reform today, about “prioritizing rehabilitation programs for people caught with drugs.”

★ maybe it expands drug treatment courts, which are shitty

★ maybe it eliminates mandatory minimums

★ maybe it creates treatment programs, funded so that people can access them? hahaha no

★ maybe it gives police the authority to make decisions about people’s lives that they should NOT be making

★ maybe it is a half-step, a slight lean away from criminalization to pathologization which is a good way help police and doctors and continue killing thousands and thousands of people who use drugs every year.

none of that is actually good. now who’s decriminalized?

i’m sure it will be some combination of the above, some weak-ass gesture that will not end this social massacre that Trudeau’s governments will be remembered for (eventually), but it might get him through an election using the same slogan “We’re Not The Worst” and keep the votes of anyone who still believes this bullshit. that is, not one person who has been paying attention.

instead, the government could do something effective. no really. its a choice.


but its not a silver bullet!

have you ever heard such a nonsensical objection to a proposed policy reform? “Oh if its not a single-point solution, we’re not going to bother trying.”

decriminalization is necessary to enable the rest of the solution.

nobody needs to hear any more about what decriminalization should NOT be, that it should not be with dissuasion panels, not with cops, not like Portugal or another place. let’s talk about what it could, and should be, figure out how to get there, and then do it. imagine: instead of being against something horrible, we’re going to work FOR something we imagine, and win.

and this is not only about us as people who use drugs: through our connections to larger movements, our movement (when successful) will dissolve. because in fact decriminalization is about Black Lives Matter and defunding the police, not about consolidating the carceral state. the police must not be involved (yes they can go decriminalize themselves) in defining or deciding what decriminalization means! its through public discourse that we will reduce discrimination and bring people in. just by talking about these things, our lives, openly.


  • stop centring ourselves, this is a social/political issue that impacts everyone
  • emphasize the economic sinkhole of criminalization
  • the drug war is racist, and a consequence of colonialism. defund the police.
  • safe supply does decriminalize. thats why we ask doctors – among the most powerful people in cdn society – to step up for us and prescribe. to defy the aura of criminal association.
  • when people object to the possibility of profound social change, thats how you know its necessary.
  • nothing about prohibition, the drug war, criminalization – none of this is natural or inevitable or necessary. its our world, lets change it. 
  • STOP TALKING ABOUT YOURSELF. talk about the impacts on the people you’re trying to convince. talk about the public interest – how even non-criminalized people will benefit from a decriminalized society.
zooming in and out on a werewolf! caption: its not a silver bullet.... or IS it?

i’m tired of having to say that drug users should be at the centre of this and set the terms. that shouldnt need to be said. meet us where we’re at. catch up.

a public discussion is itself a process of decriminalization, since the goal is for drug users to simply be part of the public. to become boring regular people – rather than Those People. that’s the goal.

as long as users continue to be Those People, our deaths (and lives) aren’t real and nothing will change.

we don’t want compassion : we need the public to see themselves in us, to identify with us. not a brother, cousin, mother, or son. but to see us (the living) as themselves.

we need to do everything we can to bridge that gap too. what Decriminalization will look like is up to us.

a Decriminalized Vancouver is not a solution to a nationwide catastrophe. we know this, and this is not an I-Got-Mine Hail Mary to the endzone or an empty symbolic gesture. the federal government wasn’t about to do anything without significant pressure; what we did was create a pressure point, and made a window. we will keep on pushing. we must all continue to generate momentum, any way you can – have a discussion group, an educational or dialogue session, or a poster campaign, connect with each other, catch each other up. we need to push from the inside and the outside, and find new angles and ways. and start now! no one is coming to save us, and there is no Them: its just us.


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much worse

why did the drug supply change so dramatically? why have experts who think in terms of *heroin*, or people whose experience is solely about the market of 5+ years ago been so tragically and completely wrong?

you must understand that synthetic drugs have changed everything.

from Frontline Fentanyl

synthetic drugs are very profitable; we got too poor in a place that was getting wealthier by the day.

the housing prices and overdose deaths correlation.

the Poisoning Massacre is similarly an economic crisis. in fact it is the same one and will not be solved entirely through Safe Supply. it will be mitigated, but the underlying causes will remain. and will return. its more than a housing crisis.

we got too poor. From 2007-2017, basic social assistance in BC was $610/mth and disability was $906/mth. the shelter rate, as ever, was $375/mth.

how does this compare to the supply change in other places? these are from The Future of Fentanyl and Other Synthetic Opioids (2019) from @RANDCorporation and i highly recommend that you check that out.

Fentanyl’s challenge to treatment and harm reduction is etched starkly in Vancouver’s death rate,” the Rand authors state. Accurately. And this is also true:

Imagine, if you can, that twice as many people had died since 2016. That twice as many are dying right now.

Safe Supply is Poverty Reduction. it will eliminate the profit motive, thus the need for the informal market (if you do it right) and for survival crime. we must decommodify drugs. SafeSupply is therefore also Pharmacare.

The illicit market is sufficient proof that we don’t have “universal health care” in canada. While usually people think “two-tier, fancy private health clinics etc” – ie people for whom public health care is not good enough – which we’re not ok with, we also have thousands of people buying drugs of unknown composition on the street, who have no access to the public system which has rejected them. we criminalize them.

We can open the door back to the health care system through the provision of multiple ways to access Safe Supply (please stop saying “low-barrier”; people have different barriers and it doesnt mean they’re “low”). make programs accessible and create choices. NOT models.

an alignment chart for safer supply routes.
lawful good: dispensing machine
lawful neutral: prescribed supply
lawful evil: iOAT/crosstown

neutral good: people's pharmacy/compassion club
true neutral: DIY
neutral evil: "heroin at the corner store"
chaotic good: city-licensed dealers
chaotic neutral: collective self-regulation with drug checking
chaotic evil: i know a guy

and now in the Covidtimes, we know how this is going. Here is my summary of this UNODC report on Covid and the drug supply chain: shit is going to be bad all over. It was published in May, and they were right! There are no bailouts for the informal/illegal economy, but its still part of the global economy, and that whole thing IS NOT GOING GREAT

It is going to get worse and we should acknowledge that. i dont want what happened here to happen everywhere, i wouldnt want this for anyone. and the thing is

We have not really been able to acknowledge what has happened here.

“There is no one to care if you do not care – and that ‘you’, i think, is us, and thats whats happened. If we can’t care – because the work of mere survival becomes too much – then theres nothing that holds us together anymore.

The truth of this unspeakable thought was confirmed for me when people who had moved on came through to visit, people who understood this place deeply five years ago, and said No one cares anymore. Everything is broken, everythings gone, and looked at me in horror.

This feeling – of the world collapsing in on itself, of everyone dying, of inexpressible grief – its been a lot, its a lot to bear and those who remain have only become more isolated, and even more ground down by the work of survival and we’ve slowly lost what we held most dear: our ability to take care of each other. Which is crushing, but true.

We’ve lost so many people. Consider that when you have a social network – a mutual aid network – of people you see and say hey to everyday, share knowledge with, and these are the connections that held everything together – and THREE HUNDRED PEOPLE DIE EVERY YEAR FOR YEARS.

Those connections that we had have been broken, and connection was all we had. We can’t – we couldn’t pretend we were taking care of each other – it was like trying to tread water in a tsunami. we couldn’t. This has been a profound and serious massacre, and we need to acknowledge that. We need to change how we respond, and we have to continue to respond, because this cannot continue like this. “

and i was saying this in the beforetimes.

“it is important to acknowledge that a new era could be coming when synthetic opioids are so cheap and ubiquitous that supply control will become less cost-effective,” the RAND report very accurately states. once again we’re ahead of things in Vancouver. but.

there’s no stopping this with policing – policing makes it worse. and its all too much harm to reduce. we can’t reduce it enough to survive. The treatment system has (for the most part) failed to adjust as well, failed to comprehend the scale of this – there is still a two-week wait to even begin. Here, now: in Vancouver, in December 2020. It is a total failure.

we focus on opioids to our detriment. This is not an opioid crisis.

and this is only the first wave. to users this is obvious.