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New ATM-like opioid dispensary in DTES will save lives: drug policy developer

Last Updated Jan 18, 2020 at 10:29 am PDT

Summary

A machine that dispenses safe drugs to addicts is coming to Vancouver

'MySafe' has support from the executive director of the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition at Simon Fraser University

A drug policy developer says this type of innovation is needed especially in Vancouver

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — A new drug dispensary in Vancouver makes it possible for addicts to pick up prescriptions from something similar to a vending machine.

An ATM that dispenses safe drugs will be located in the Downtown Eastside, which is also home to Canada’s first supervised injection site.

The executive director of the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition at Simon Fraser University, Donald MacPherson, is confident “MySafe” will save lives.

“It’s a needed innovation to protect people from what is an extremely deadly, toxic, illegal drug supply.”

MacPherson admits this may not be perfect, but too many lives have been lost since this opioid crisis started more than three years ago.

“We had very few tools to respond to that issue, whereas if it were food or water or other substances, we would know how to respond.”

As for anyone complaining about the cost, he insists this program is much more useful than wasting millions on ambulance calls and emergency room visits.

“This is what drug users themselves are asking for, so we need to shift our thinking about how to protect the safety of people who use opioids,” MacPherson tells NEWS 1130.

“When you’re dealing with a really marginalized population that may or may not have stable housing, the fact that they know where their substances are that they’re addicted to, that’s a huge improvement over the current situation.”

Right now, only a handful of patients have access to the dispensary located in the Downtown Eastside, but MacPherson supports setting more up across the province.