On Friday afternoon, Vancouver Police raided High Hopes, a cannabis harm reduction program in the Downtown Eastside that aims to provide drug users in the area with a safer, non-deadly alternative to opioids, according to program coordinator Sarah Blythe.

She captured video of the cannabis seizure and shared it on Twitter.

As she calls out the officers for “taking opioid replacements for people”, the officers helpfully tell her that “marijuana is still illegal” while ignoring the fact that by doing this, the VPD has put people’s lives in danger because the whole point of the High Hopes cannabis replacement program is to get people off of opioids, and it gave the cannabis away for free (or at a very low cost).

This is completely ridiculous. Not only is cannabis being used as medicine to try and save lives in the midst of the opioid crisis, cannabis is supposed to be legal in little over a month! Where are the priorities?

The backlash to the VPD’s raid on High Hopes has been swift, with Dana Larsen, the owner of The Medicinal Cannabis Dispensary, pledging to send over more cannabis immediately.

Karen Ward, a DTES-based activist, even called the VPD raid illegal.

This brings up big questions about Vancouver’s commitment to harm reduction.

According to a CTV News story, 50% of the participants in the High Hopes program have reduced their dependency on street drugs and 25% have quit opioids altogether.

Understandably, many people are asking why this raid was even conducted in the first place.

 

Maybe the only good thing to come out of this is if you’re outraged by this VPD raid, make sure to get out and vote for Sarah Blythe, the High Hopes organizer and Overdose Prevention Society founder, who’s running for Vancouver City Council.

Vancouver Police Respond

 

Featured image courtesy of the Georgia Straight.

Sources

CTV News: Free cannabis offered at B.C. clinic to help illicit drug users detox