Category Archives: bunk economy

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.

the past was prologue

our history is your future

its odd that they use the word ‘mixing’ as if the use of benzos like etizolam (which is not licensed for use in canada) was intended.

from Toward the Heart/BCCDC (Dec 23, 2020)

the fact is, these novel benzologues entered this market for the same basic reason that fentanyl did (when it flooded the market, almost entirely replacing heroin, 2015-16): profit.

apparently, its hard to make any money off poor people who are always getting poorer. so we see a very potent non-opioid in a large % of the supply. however, the supply itself changes through time. in fact, it changes in step with the cheque cycle most months. the upshot of this is after (for example) a couple weeks of using down with a high benzo content, your tolerance for opioids is diminished to whatever extent, meaning that you’re going down hard when the supply shifts and contains more fent.

month by month, the supply is inching away from opioids. in Toronto, the % of xylazine, a veterinary tranquilizer, is astonishing. on the west coast, drug checking finds novel benzodiazipines – ie they are custom-made.

in June, I tried to find out what – besides benzos – drug checking was seeing in the down. yes, i said. “active” contaminants and bunk.

  • 4-ANPP
  • acetaminophen
  • ascorbic acid
  • benzocaine
  • cocaine base
  • creatine
  • dextromethorphan
  • dimethyl sultone
  • heroin
  • hci lactose methamphetamine
  • HCI microcrystalline cellulose
  • phenacetin
  • plaster
  • polyethylene glycol
  • propionanilide
  • starch
  • sucrose
  • sugar (uncertain)
  • water
  • xylitol

this is a wrench in safe supply prescribing. you may think you use fentanyl but you also use benzos and a bunch of other random shit. so by shifting to safe supply, you’re withdrawing off all that, which can be terrible, and really dangerous (but not dopesick), and you can be prescribed legit benzos to make it smoother, and you should. whatever you think you use is inaccurate, and whatever a doctor says you use – well, that doctor is wrong.

can someone shift to a prescribed supply when theyve been consuming unknown sludge for however long? i think so, but we have to acknowledge the reality of the sludge to get anywhere. did anyone want all that shit in the first place?

on the other side you have the prescribed opioid without all that other stuff. but to get there i think health systems and prescribers need to get a lot more flexible. you’re not replacing a drug, but a drug market.

and if this is successful, that market will slowly react and there will be a tipping point when enough people are on prescribed supply, and those people will have a lot more money.

i wonder what will happen then


got benzoed?

That down? Its a point of processed synthetic chemicals, designed not for you (not anymore, not this) but for maximum profit. you have no idea what it is.

capture of “darkweb” sale board

so you come out of it and not know where you are or how you got there and already feel sick again. Thats the benzo. Its not an opiate. but you were down for hours and you cant even move or remember anything

so now everybody is paying more and more for less actual down, plus that level of psychiatric medication, which you should get for free but instead you might die and no one has any money and no one cares anymore because everyone is chasing it all day all night

and you have no idea what it is

safe supply is knowing.


we are all getting bunked

in this terrifying vancouver election, i’m not terribly interested in any given candidate’s claim to be Left or Right: i’m much more concerned about how they understand power, if they are self-confident enough to take an immense amount of shit (and not it personally), if they are curious and ask questions because they want to understand, rather than want to show that everyone else doesn’t. so when i tweeted about getting bunked in the legal marketplace and not knowing what to do about it, Candidate Brandon Yan asked what “bunked” means.

“when the retailer misrepresents the product, or it is a smaller amount than purchased, or it is not product at all,” i wrote.

getting bunked several years ago would piss people off. it would happen particularly often on the weekend before cheque day. this is a low-income area and people get desperate. but a seller who rips off their customers isn’t going to be in business very long. wait, it’s only 10 bucks, you say. true. but people have to do things that perhaps they otherwise would not have in order to earn that ten. and then to go home, and open a flap of crushed chalk? if you don’t know what that’s like, i don’t want you to.

of course in 2018 you wouldn’t have time to get pissed off – if you were opiate-naive you’d be dead before this sentence ended. and the street retailer has no idea what they have in inventory (other than that “it’s really good”).

for some 25 years, the phrase “open-air drug market” has been used to describe my neighbourhood, the downtown eastside. apparently the objectionable thing about this is that it’s “open,” visible for anyone to see – thus an offense to tourism, business, the children, and decent people everywhere. therefore it is an affront to the Law, and is also known as Street Disorder

its visibility could have been considered one of its safer characteristics. “you only bunk once” it was said. you would be instantly called out, and encouraged to cease your participation in the marketplace – since now your action is widely known, you’ve undermined trust in all other retailers. it would be unwise to attempt to sell in the neighbourhood again. the fact that you tried to bunk us would never be forgotten.

that was a collectively self-regulated illicit market. there’s no customer service desk, no receipts. debts were paid and collected. there was coercion, violence.

meanwhile, in the world off the block, as the cost of everything exploded, the incomes of poor people were unchanged – which is to say, decreased. revenues fell in every market but the property market – and while the cost of illicit drugs isn’t factored into the cost of living by policy analysts and economists, it should be, because demand is steady. and it doesn’t matter where they were first produced – you can synthesize these chemicals anywhere, and it’s much cheaper (and more profitable) to produce and sell synthetics like fentanyl or whatever the next thing will be than it is to import all that bulky plant-based dope. customers had less money, and that money had to do more work. thus it’s poverty that explains the impact of synthetic opiates, explains precisely why thousands of deaths don’t mean a thing.

the illicit drug market is capitalism unregulated, revealed as an unending nightmare, in its purest and therefore most brutal form. this is the war of all against all, but we’re cannon fodder, ritual sacrifices and with our technology we can make synthetic substances in small undetectable quantities in the laundry room and yeah you will get high —

then everybody started dying

the collective self-regulation of the market? yeah, that fell apart quick. nobody knew for certain what happened to you know, that guy – or her, she was here the other day. where did she buy? no one knew. and drug users generally speaking already had some trust issues.

but now we have no trust in anything, or anyone, and if it’s even fathomable, are more isolated from each other than when this began. the hopelessness, like a wave, the undertow. we cannot trust each other again.

but then what? the use of psychotropic substances is a constant in human history. and there is less potential for harm in societies that are less harmful.

so… this all will be re-built, either illicit, improvised, awaiting the next crisis, or as an externally regulated market. either/or.

it’s not like we can remove the profit motive and transform social relations by rejecting capitalism through the free exchange of substances that relieve pain and produce pleasure

it’s not like we can do that

users are only ever interested in getting high

the solution isn’t to ‘reduce poverty’ or ‘tax the rich.’ the well is poisoned. the solution isn’t to beat them at their own game. the solution is to Change the Game.

that is what we have to do. no one is going to do it for us. there is no Them to demand that from. just us.