Activists selling street drugs from Vancouver ‘compassion club’ charged with trafficking

Two Vancouver drug policy activists have been criminally charged after police raided a “compassion club” their group was using to sell tested, illicit street drugs last year.

Vancouver police said Friday that Jeremy Kalicum, 28, and Eris Nyx, 33, of the Drug User Liberation Front (DULF) had each been charged with three counts of possession for the purpose of trafficking.

Vancouver police raided the DULF facility and two East Vancouver homes in October 2023. DULF had freely admitted it was selling heroin, cocaine and methamphetamines from the site to a group of registered users.

Click to play video: 'Securing a safe drug supply through ‘compassion clubs’'

Securing a safe drug supply through ‘compassion clubs’

In an interview with Global News weeks before the raid, Kalickum described the DULF operation as controversial but necessary as an approach to address the soaring number of deaths linked to toxic drugs in the city.

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“People are using drugs, but they don’t know how strong they are, they don’t know what’s in them, and they’re overdosing and they’re dying,” he said.

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“We needed a compassion club. We needed somewhere for people to come who use drugs to get what they need in known potencies, quantities and quality and not be exploited financially, not be put at risk of violence and to not overdose.”

Click to play video: 'BC United leader blasts free drug funding'

BC United leader blasts free drug funding

Kalickum admitted the group bought its drugs from the black market, saying it had no legal alternative. The drugs were then sent to labs at the University of British Columbia or the University of Victoria to be tested before they were sold at cost to a small group of users, he said.

The group had also received $200,000 in funding from Vancouver Coastal Health to operate a program that checked people’s street drugs. DULF maintains none of that money was used to buy drugs.

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Kalickum added at the time that he was aware the initiative could result in legal trouble but that he welcomed the opportunity to gest Canada’s drug laws under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

It appears DULF will now have that chance. Kalicum and Nyx are due in court on July 2.

The group is also challenging a refusal by Health Canada to allow it to operate a compassion club in Federal Court.

On Thursday, the BC Coroners Service revealed 182 people died in from toxic drugs in April, a 24-per cent drop over the same month last year, and down from 192 people in March of this year.

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