COVID amplifies

COVID amplifies systemic violence: increasing and accelerating the impacts of already existing policy, policy trends, and practices. the consequences, intended or not, immediately impact people exposed to risk, because they haven’t made any policy choices, and can only react. and these consequences collide and combine in unexpected ways, depending on local context.

so drug users are dying in large and increasing numbers. almost all of us will die, from many things – all of them consequences of injustice.

for example, the guest ban in SROs and supportive housing has directly led to a lot of deaths in the neighbourhood which would otherwise been prevented – and in multiple ways. obviously yes, overdosing because using alone. also, where is the “guest” now? living rough on the street, then dead from a stabbing. the ban prevents a resident with mobility issues from visiting their friend across the street, who would have insisted that they go to the hospital, but that didn’t happen, so they’re dead. lots of that. my own building was decimated in may. ten percent of my neighbours died.

and the supply is toxic. its all over the place in terms of potency, composition, and internal consistency, as has been noted.

there are stupid terrible ways that poor people die. sometimes it’s one little that goes wrong, and then everything falls to pieces. those are consequences, and not causes.

as is poverty, and its cycle (in lockstep with the illicit supply), which is also a killer. we have to stop having cheque day. people must be empowered to design their own assistance schedule, in consultation with an advisor. the government must stop dumping all the legal money on poor people once a month. this needs to stop. it can. it’s a choice.

these are excess COVID deaths. COVID amplifies.

i also discovered that this is happening everywhere, at least in canada, and even more so this US, which makes sense in drug policy terms. 30% -> 50% – 90% mortality, March – April – May, quite consistently. Everywhere I could find overdose data. Because it’s a pandemic, which means everywhere.

“Between March 15 and April 25, British Columbia recorded 372 more deaths than in any of the previous five years for those same weeks — but just 99 of those were confirmed COVID-19 cases.”

Excess deaths, june 19, cbc

so at this rate, by year’s end … well, my advice is to speak directly to users. for once. like we’re human. and say that 98% of drug users will almost definitely be dead by year’s end.

Overdoses – in this sense – are only predominant in an overwhelming tide of death. and will continue to be for a little while. but they are not the cause of death. nor is COVID.

people say they hate drug use, and users, but that’s an excuse: that’s why the drug war is maintained- they need this reason to justify such hate. but as it turns out drug users are oppressed racialized minorities, Black and Indigenous people, people with disabilities, whether physical or mental or emotional, and queer and trans people, and other people denied or unable to access regulated medical care (undocumented migrants, injured contract workers, youth or teens fleeing abusive homes), and often a combination of these, and then add poverty. these are lived political contexts, these are lives lived in great pain, exposed to this system’s violence. and get trapped in it. it looks like the people here. it hurts. a lot. drugs soothe that somewhat. for a time.

that is why this is political and why it is about justice. because injustice is fatal.

Now Who’s Decriminalized

what’s happening is that they’re trying to preempt defunding the police. just like the BC police act review, conveniently announced the day before, which explicitly will not consider decriminalization as recommended last year by Dr Henry. And ignored.

That provincial committee is mandated to update & renew the police act and address systemic racism. The police mandated themselves to renew the police and always be necessary; and  they were in fact created as an occupying force, and so they remain. Because that is the system.

did you catch that palmer laughed when asked if this change would reduce police budgets and said 

” DefundThePolice is a hashtag, not a real plan”

but “we’ll need more cops because what if we can’t tell all of you apart so no defunding here” is.  Really?

“we’ll need the same number of officers to stop the drugs from being made and getting to you and also to care for you, on the frontlines. and divert. with caring”

so the idea is to use users as bait for “dealers” but it’s as difficult to tell who’s who, the police will choose based on their training.

that’s the same as now

except much more manipulative and divisive which is such a shit thing to do when we’ve all lost so many friends

no. i do not want police given the authority to divert people into treatment. 

“FRONTLINE POLICING 

*WOULD LIKELY ASSUME INCREASED RESPONSIBILITY*

TO DIVERT PEOPLE”

No

I wonder who they will divert

chief palmer talked about how the VPD have a policy of not arresting people for simple possession, of taking a harm reduction approach. there are contradictions between this policy and practice.

Police board videos

they will still take people’s stuff: “When her regular dealer loses his dope to officers, Steinhauer is sometimes left scrambling and forced to buy drugs from someone she doesn’t know. Sometimes that means the drugs are contaminated.”

Canadian police chiefs recommend decriminalizing personal possession of illicit drugs

THAT IS A LOT OF STUFF

Vancouver police make 50,000 drug seizures in 29 months

The Vancouver Police Department has released data showing it has made 50,000 seizures of illicit and prescription drugs since January 2017.

market interventions

this would be the opposite of harm reduction. there are consequences when one’s assets are seized in an illicit survival economy 

know what i mean

if it was yours, you have to replace what the cops took and you never forget what you had to do. it’s your damn medicine. if you were working and that was inventory oh shit. replace it with something cheaper. who knows what anything is really.

WTAF.

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citing those two in a report to the federal government that recommends serious changes that affect thousands of people’s lives – rather than (for example)

Drug Decriminalization: A Matter of Justice and Equity, Not Just Health – PubMed

or a comparative policy review

Depenalization, diversion and decriminalization: A realist review and programme theory of alterna…

How much did this FOURTEEN page report that involved international travel for team members and two years to produce cost?

how about police don’t make policy because the policy recommendation is always MORE POLICE

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so this is a different approach to THE EXACT SAME THING. continue criminalizing with these laws made specifically to target Indigenous, Black, and Asian communities – that is, laws made to uphold white supremacy. Laws that enforce the drug war.

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this has nothing to do with drugs. you are deliberately missing the point. this is a diversion. this plan gives police more power. it does not decriminalize anything or anyone.

unnatural disaster

It is not an opioid crisis! The changes we seek are not about a class of drug. This about prohibition & racist drug policy that justifies its existence by punishing people already suffering under the conditions it has created; its a weapon of the structures that must be unmade.

In fact, saying people died from “opioid-related overdose” has profoundly negative effects on people who are prescribed these medications, pain patients. And it’s another way that the words we all use obstruct access to safe supply.

In any public forum, the comparison with COVID-19 is going to come up. It’s not about the number of deaths: it’s not a competition. Let’s step back and have another look, because these are really different, and here’s how. And i think this is the point that we need to get insistent about.

Contagious viruses like COVID-19 that become epidemics, which in turn become pandemics, are inevitable — they happen again and again throughout human history. They are natural disasters — terrible but natural. What illicit drug users have experienced these last years is an unnatural disaster in every way. It is the result of choices: choices that have been made by governments. And different choices could be made every day.

It is not about opioids. Definitely not anymore. Really never was. Calling it such distorts our goals. I’ve been correcting anyone from the media I speak to, anyone in government, and anyone in health care or drug policy who still speaks to me. I don’t need to speak with them, nor they to me. It’s the public we to talk to, not each other. Really. You may think I’m going too far, but it shocks people when i call it a Prohibition Massacre. And that’s what I want to do: shock people out of complacency, and stop them from saying ¯_(ツ)_/¯ what can we do? ¯_(ツ)_/¯

Try to shock people, however you can.

And stop saying the same thing again and again. Because it didnt work.

This Is How

oh yeah the hearing for the sahota pot shop when we were locked out and we sat outside on the lawn and ate raspberries from the garden and it was the first time i’d sat outside that year. and when the hearing was supposed to start the doors were still locked so i said this on the steps and then we sat on the lawn for three hours and then went back on the party bus and donnie worked the laser lights and he smiled and i said no photos because how could a photo get close to this feeling and then the sahotas were denied

(july 12 2017)

And they will argue, and I’m sure argue well, that the only legal way that you can rule against them is on the issue of proximity to a school as there is nothing else in the application that in any way contravenes any city regulation.

They will tell you, in this way, that you cannot get them.

They will tell you that you don’t know what is going on. That you don’t know that is application is a shameless fuck you to all and every possible moral obligation a government has, even in this belittled and degraded form and moment.

I do note that it does not contravene the regulations that the dimly obscured owners of this proposed establishment have ignored city by-laws and codes for years, to the extent that life was endangered, people were victimized, robbed, bullied, exploited, humiliated, and they died. The owners got rich. Then you said that now the building was unsafe and everyone had to go.

The living conditions were disgusting, you said. 

You said you’d be  “looking at every possible legal and regulatory tool we have available to force the Sahota family to improve the Balmoral and hold them accountable for ignoring City by-laws”

This is how you do that. 

It doesn’t say in the ordinance that the establishment cannot be a franchise of a cobbled-together business empire that is based on the exploitation of the people most damaged by so much of the violence in our society, and whatever way you can think of to steal from the poor.

Maybe you should include that in future regulations. Then you would have to state clearly that you would have been thinking of justice when decisions are made around the licensing, or making legitimate, of some sort of enterprise or establishment within the city. 

I guess if you did not approve this application they would be delighted to take the city to court. 

That’s how you hold them accountable for their brazen disregard for human rights. And human decency. And human life. And all the by-laws and rules and ordinances and crap that you have and that they have mocked and ignored for years, those weak tools that you won’t improve or enforce, until the building falls down and now it’s an emergency! 

You go to court, and expose their crimes and sue them for everything, and take their properties and use the money to fix them and make them decent.

Those are legal and regulatory tools. Take a risk on behalf of the people you represent. Actually fight for us.

That is how you can do that.

That’s what this could be like.

very local media at the end of the drug wars

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