A seller’s market

Every night on the television news we see horrific footage of young people overdosing in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. They are being attended to in alleyways by firefighters, paramedics and volunteers. They are addicts, hooked on heroin, often laced with fentanyl, which is fatal spelled a new way. In the first ten months of this year, more than 600 people have died of illicit drug overdose in British Columbia.

Vancouver has long been home to the highest drug use in Canada. There are supervised injection sites, detox and treatment centres, even a mobile medical unit, all of them stretched so thin by the problem that they cannot treat all those who seek help.

The federal government has taken action to change out-of-date customs rules that will allow broader powers to open and seize packages weighing less than 30 grams arriving from China, the main source of delivered death. More supervised sites are also coming.

I hear about activity – and see it on my TV screen – by everybody but the local police. These addicts don’t look like people who can travel very far to buy their next fix. Maybe a few blocks. Why aren’t there dozens of arrests made monthly to lower the ready availability of these illicit drugs? Surely a more focused police presence could spot sales that must be happening within plain view. This is such a simple idea there must be something wrong with it. I’d be happy to hear what.

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