Taxpayer-Funded Drugs

When people say “safe supply,” they mean taxpayer-funded drugs. A recent investigative piece in the National Post inspired lively debate about it in the House of Commons. 

But, as Noam Chomsky wrote, “The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum.”

There is fierce debate in Canada about a “safe supply” of taxpayer-funded drugs. Conservatives argue there is no such thing as a “safe supply” of hard drugs. Implying that, even if heroin and cocaine were legal and regulated, they would still be “unsafe.”

The other side of the debate is entirely out to lunch. The facts are not on their side. But as characteristic of Canada’s Liberal Party and many on the modern left – civil disagreements and reasonable critiques are symptoms of “hate.”

Which is a shame. Because both sides are wrong and right. Liberals are right not to criminalize drugs and to decriminalize so-called “hard” drugs. But they are wrong to make taxpayers pay for it. 

As well, given the historic incompetence of the Trudeau government, Canadians have every right to be skeptical that such a large policy change – decriminalizing “hard” drugs – won’t backfire in unexpected ways.

Indeed, the latest piece out of the Post indicates what these unintended consequences may be. Conservatives are correct that taxpayer-funded drugs under the guise of “safe supply” is not working. 

But their solution is to amp up the drug war. They, like the Liberals, believe they can alter demand by affecting supply.

The actual solution, of course, is legalization.

How Taxpayer-Funded Drugs Created the Opioid Crisis 

Taxpayer-Funded Drugs

The story usually goes the other way around. Canada has an opioid crisis, so the government started a safe supply program to address it. But it seems that taxpayer-funded drugs have given a shot in the arm to the opioid crisis.

The National Post finds the same reality that others, like Aaron Gunn, have found. 

The taxpayer-funded opioid (hydromorphone) is too weak for the opioid-addicted. Users sell these weak opioids to younger adults, even minors, for cash. They then use the money to buy fentanyl.

Police call this “diversion.” 

Diversion was a big issue for the government when it came to cannabis. Whether it was Harper’s lawyers arguing that medical patients “divert” their supply to the black market. Or whether allowing Canadians to grow at home may contribute to “diversion.”

But that concern is only for benign, nontoxic cannabis. When it comes to harder drugs, like opioids, public health has been rebranding diversion. They call it “compassionate sharing,” and “mutual aid.”

Many physicians are rightly calling this “outrageous.” But most of them are too afraid to speak. Most physicians and other experts were given pseudonyms in the National Post to protect their identity.

That is, to protect them against the so-called “compassionate” left-wing activists who protest ideas they personally disapprove of. 

Nevertheless, this diversion of taxpayer-funded drugs to the underground market has resulted in the price of opioids collapsing. 

The National Post quotes several doctors who are on the front line of the opioid crisis. They know for a fact that the street price of an 8mg tablet of hydromorphone has dropped significantly.

In London, Ontario, where the government first tested safe supply, an 8mg tablet went from $20 to $2.

In places like Downtown Vancouver Eastside, you can find as cheap as 25 cents a pill. And while 8mg is nothing for a hardcore addict, to the young kid they’re selling the taxpayer-funded drugs to, that 8mg has the potential to get them hooked.

Thus, creating a cycle where taxpayer-funded drugs or “safe supply” create a new generation of opioid addicts. 

“Compassionate” Politics is Toxic 

Taxpayer-Funded Drugs
(Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

“Safe Supply” protocols sometimes require the user to provide a urine test to prove they are using these taxpayer-funded drugs and not just reselling them. But not every “safe supply” site requires this.

Some of them – to remove “stigma” – require no proof at all. Just go in and say you’ve overdosed on fentanyl in the last month, and you can get up to 30 tablets of 8mg of hydromorphone.

But even when required to prove they’ve got hydromorphone in their system – the addicts take one or two, enough to pass the drug test and sell the rest.

Of course, this viewpoint is considered “patriarchal.” The idea that drug users may be rational and consume fentanyl because they like it is white supremacy, probably. 

The far-left “compassionate” activists never consider the logic of human action. This isn’t surprising, given this group’s affiliation with failed economic ideas. 

Consider what Ludwig von Mises wrote

Human action is necessarily always rational. The term’ rational action’ is therefore pleonastic and must be rejected as such. When applied to the ultimate ends of action, the terms rational and irrational are inappropriate and meaningless. The ultimate end of action is always the satisfaction of some desires of the acting man.

Opioid addicts may have “irrational” ends. Like buying and consuming street fentanyl. But their means – going to safe supply, lying to the dispenser, selling to kids, and then using the money to buy fentanyl – are entirely rational.

In this sense, it’s also rational to give up your bedbug-infested single-room occupancy and go live on the street—especially around “safe supply” sites. Which is precisely what we see.

Taxpayer-funded hard drug dispensaries provide the capital that street people use to keep the fentanyl market alive and well.

There is no disputing these facts. Only someone ignorant of basic economics could argue otherwise. Which brings us to Justin Trudeau…

Taxpayer-Funded Drugs vs. Cannabis

Taxpayer-Funded Drugs vs. Cannabis

Regarding decriminalizing hard drugs, Justin Trudeau said: 

I think decriminalization is a bad idea because it doesn’t do anything to make it more difficult for young people to access it and it doesn’t do anything in terms of keeping the black market and the criminal organizations from profiting from it.

Oh, wait. My mistake. He said about cannabis. Adding that, “That’s why I believe in control and regulation that actually will do the protection of public safety and of minors that we need. And in the meantime, it’s still illegal.”

So why is that true for cannabis but not drugs like heroin or cocaine?

Like so many other questions Canadians have asked Justin and his government, we have yet to get a straight answer. Odds are we never will.

Justin will point to the $1 billion thrown at homelessness as if taxpayer money can solve complex social issues.

He also says, “it’s a fact,” that harm reduction has saved lives. But, as is characteristic of his government, the focus is on one group in the short run instead all groups in the long run.

In other words, Justin Trudeau hasn’t considered the unintended consequences of taxpayer-funded supply of drugs. He merely looks at narrowed-focused results and declares it a victory.

Meanwhile, as 8mg opioid pills flood the streets for less than $2 a pop, Health Canada is warning Canadians about ‘copycat’ edible cannabis that exceeds their public health limit of 10mg THC.

The Alternative to Taxpayer-Funded Drugs

The Alternative to Taxpayer-Funded Drugs
Photo credit: Trey Patric Helten

As mentioned, how this country has framed the taxpayer-funded drugs or “safe supply,” debate has been dishonest. 

And this is typical of democratic governments. Take gay marriage, for example. You were either for or against it. There was no “Hey, maybe the state shouldn’t be concerned with marriage licenses?” option.

The opioid crisis has killed over 35,000 Canadians. There needs to be more nuance to the issue than “safe supply is good and compassionate, and those who disagree with us are full of hate and are probably fascist.” 

Or, on the other side of the debate, “Drugs are bad, mmkay? Unless you’re talking about alcohol.”

Obviously, as was the case with alcohol and cannabis prohibition, legalization is the solution. 

The reasons Justin Trudeau wanted legal cannabis apply here. And unlike cannabis, young people getting hooked on opioids is a far more significant issue than teenagers who may be smoking too much pot for their own good.

And because of “safe supply” propaganda, many teens think 8mg of hydromorphone is safe and okay. All the while, Health Canada ramps up the propaganda about the alleged harms of cannabis.

I don’t know about you, but if only given the two options, I’d rather see teenagers get their hands on ‘copycat’ cannabis edibles than these taxpayer-funded hard drugs.

Are We Ready for Legalization?

Are We Ready for Legalization?

Of course, you could make the case that Canadians aren’t ready for heroin legalization. Indeed, our narratives about drugs and drug use are still captured by drug-war-era thinking.

But at the end of the day, there is no other option. We will never have a drug-free society. That’s not even a desirable goal. Who wants a world without coffee, cannabis or morphine?

Solving the opioid crisis means getting to the core of people’s preferences. Why do some people prefer to live on the street and use drugs irresponsibly than have a home and a career and use drugs responsibly?

“They have a disease of the brain and can’t make rational decisions,” is the opinion of both major political parties.

This belief won’t solve the opioid crisis. But it will encourage lively debate on “safe supply.” A supply brought to you by Big Pharma and your tax dollars.