The Vancouver Police Department announced Thursday that Martin had been arrested in connection with the opening of his illegal drug store.
"We support measures aimed at improving public safety for people who use drugs, including harm reduction services and decriminalization," Constable Tania Visintin said, "however, we remain committed in our position that drug trafficking will continue to be the subject of enforcement."
Martin was released from custody, pending his next appearance in court. He's been barred from coming back to the Downtown Eastside.
The original story is as follows:
On Wednesday, a Vancouver man set up shop selling "tested" drugs in the city's Downtown Eastside, which has long been an epicentre of overdoses.
The Drugs Store, founded and operated by 51-year-old Jerry Martin, stocks everything from cocaine to methamphetamine, and all his products are guaranteed to be "100% fentanyl free."
The opening of the store is just the latest in a string of controversial moves made by residents since British Columbia decriminalized certain hard drugs. While selling remains illegal, Martin has stated that he would go to court if authorities try and shut down his operation, citing the fact that the overdose crisis is fueled in large part by dirty supply.
A sign outside The Drugs Store states that there are "no impurities or cuts" in any of the substances being sold there, and runs through a list of prices. Martin made sure to emphasize that the maximum amount of any drug available for purchase is 2.5 grams, which is the limit on personal possession set by the province.
In an interview with VICE News, Martin explained why he decided to set up shop.
"People are dying," he said. "Especially now, they've allowed the entire province to do these drugs ... but they've provided no clean, safe supply. They're getting it from the same supply that everybody's overdosing from."
The BC government made it clear at the time, however, that "decriminalization is not legalization," noting that, "under this exemption, illegal drugs (including those listed above) are not legalized and will not be sold in stores. Drug trafficking remains illegal, regardless of the amount of drug(s) in possession."
The current maximum sentence for selling drugs in Canada is life in prison, however, the threat of punishment has not deterred Martin, who alongside his lawyer, Paul Lewin, has argued that "laws that prevent a safe supply and result in death by poisoning contravene section 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and must be struck down."
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