Health officers push for 'smokable fentanyl' to make drugs 'safer' in British Columbia

Toxic drugs killed 2,511 people in 2023 – a provincial record.

It’s difficult to smoke tobacco anywhere in British Columbia but Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry wants smokable fentanyl to be part of the province's “prescribed safer supply” of drugs policy.

Henry says the province should be offering more drug choices and she wants to work with drug manufacturers and distributors to make that a reality.

A new report from her office outlines what she calls an “ethical analysis” of an alleged safer supply of drugs means that intervention to reduce certain or severe harm to drug users is justified even if it means “uncertain harm” coming to the rest of the population.

Henry says this approach is more compassionate.

"We need to replace it with the compassion and understanding that I know we have in this province," she said at a news conference.

Henry is not happy with the province calling its drug strategy – one based entirely on the disputed principle of “harm reduction” –  “prescribed safer supply,” instead stating that the term should be "retired" and replaced with “prescribed alternatives” to potentially deadly drugs.

Henry even advocated on behalf of housing, demanding “substantial increases” in low-income housing because addictive or “problematic” drug use usually consumes most of the income of impoverished citizens.

The health officer dismissed outrage over drug addicts who sell their publicly-supplied opioids for stronger substances like street fentanyl as the provincial government’s failure to satisfy the needs of these drug users.

The report bemoans the fact that only 4,331 people can get prescribed “safer” drugs in BC while the rest of the estimated 115,000 hard-core opioid users are getting their more toxic product on the street.

Despite the decriminalization of hard drugs and decades of supervised injection sites that offer a supposedly “safe” venue for shooting up heroin, overdoses in BC continue to skyrocket. 

Toxic drugs killed 2,511 people in 2023 – a provincial record.

"More people than ever are dying -- nearly seven people every day in 2023. Each day, coroners across B.C. go into communities and retrieve the bodies of the dead," chief coroner Lisa LaPointe said at a Jan. 25 news conference.
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