VANDU Open Letter / The Mainlander

In November 2020, Vancouver City Council unanimously passed a motion to request that the federal government decriminalize the simple possession of illicit drugs in Vancouver. For over two decades, we at the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users (VANDU) have been fighting to end all forms of illicit drug criminalization and related policies that target drug users. 

We have needlessly lost thousands of our family members, comrades, friends, and loved ones to the drug war. VANDU members were briefly vindicated and relieved by news of the City’s announcement, but the feeling was bittersweet. Too many have already lost their lives and we’ll never get them back. This long-overdue attempt to change the status quo came too little too late, and now the proposed changes risk worsening the situation for illicit drug users in Vancouver and across Canada. 

Now, City staff are rushing the so-called “Vancouver Model” of decriminalization in its final submission to Health Canada without the involvement or knowledge of drug users, the very people this initiative purports to serve. The decisions that have already been made by the City in this process have been alarmingly ill-informed and their top-down process has been fatally flawed. If Vancouver does not correct its course immediately, the proposed model for decriminalization set a dangerous precedent for drug users across Canada.