Man Opens Brick-and-Mortar Store for Hard Drugs After Laws Are Softened
The United State’s neighbors to the north have always had their fair share of idiosyncrasies (maple syrup, poutine, and “eh” to name a few) that differentiate them from their American counterparts.
You can now add the brick-and-mortar sale of hard narcotics to the list of differences between Americans and Canadians.
This drug-addled tale begins in Vancouver, Canada, where a local man has opened a genuine brick-and-mortar store selling heroin, cocaine and meth (among other drugs) to any customers over the age of 18.
According to Vice, 51-year-old Jerry Martin opened the “Drugs Store” on Wednesday in downtown Vancouver.
Vice notes that Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside has “long been considered ground zero for Canada’s overdose epidemic.”
According to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Martin had been planning on opening up his new business since January. Martin came to that conclusion as British Columbia, the Canadian province that includes Vancouver, approved the softening of various narcotics laws.
Martin, a recovering addict and whose brother died of an overdose, feels that a regulated and structured store like the one he aims to provide can help prevent needless deaths on the streets of Vancouver.
Specifically, Martin called out the “predators” in downtown Vancouver who take advantage of drug addicts.
“Opioids and dying from those sort of things, it’s a major part of the crisis but that’s not the only part,” Martin told the CBC. “Getting robbed, getting sold something that isn’t what it should be — fear and violence is the number one [with the ongoing drug crisis.]”
In 2016, British Columbia actually deemed that drug overdose deaths were a public health emergency.
“People are dying,” Martin told Vice. “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.”
Part of the decriminalization of hard drugs in British Columbia means that there’s no criminal repercussion to carrying up to 2.5 grams of certain drugs — so Martin is sticking to that figure when it comes to his sales, selling no more than 2.5 grams of a drug at a time.
Martin also keeps a sign in front of his store that clearly denotes pricing and sizing (a “point” is the equivalent of one-tenth of a gram.)
Welcome to Vancouver.
The only city in North America currently serving cocaine, crack, heroin and crystal meth, in broad daylight, with no consequences from the city or police. pic.twitter.com/Xp73c1nY1D
— Aaron Gunn (@AaronGunn) May 4, 2023
Martin also sells more drugs on his website.
According to Vice, Martin is charging “roughly street prices,” with a gram of cocaine going for $90 and heroin going for about $200. Martin has also vowed (as the sign suggests) that his drugs will be pure and not cut with anything.
So. Martin wants to help combat rampant overdose deaths by providing people with a safe, familiar, clean place to purchase drugs and he’s not charging an exorbitant amount.
There’s just one big problem with his venture — while the possession of certain narcotics has been decriminalized, it’s still very illegal to sell said drugs.
British Columbia officials have blasted Martin’s business venture as a bad-faith interpretation of the province’s ongoing decriminalization efforts.
“Mr. Martin’s project is not within the scope of decriminalization,” the B.C. Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions told the CBC in an email statement. “The selling (or trafficking) of controlled substances remains illegal.”
Vice reports that Martin could face life in prison if arrested and convicted of selling Schedule I or II drugs.
In preparation for that, however, Martin’s lawyer has already outlined how he will legally fight the arrest (none of which have been made as of yet.)
“[Martin] would allege 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,” Paul Lewin, Martin’s legal representation, wrote in a letter for any potential landlords or business partners interested in Martin’s business.
Section 7 of the Charter, which Vice notes was key in paving the way for medical marijuana, states that Canadians have “the right to life, liberty, and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.”
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