The emergence of innovative cannabis distribution projects in the downtown eastside of Vancouver, Canada.

Int J Drug Policy. 2020 Apr 10;79:102737

Authors: Valleriani J, Haines-Saah R, Capler R, Bluthenthal R, Socias ME, Milloy MJ, Kerr T, McNeil R

The ongoing overdose crisis in the United States and Canada has highlighted the urgent need for innovative interventions to reduce drug-related harms. This, in turn, has led to increased interest in the potential of cannabis as a harm reduction strategy. While Canada has recently legalized cannabis, meaningful barriers to accessing legal cannabis remain for people who use drugs (PWUD) from marginalized communities. In the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, Canada, innovative, grassroots cannabis distribution programs that dispense cannabis and cannabis products from unregulated sources to PWUD for free have recently emerged. In this study, we draw upon 23 in-depth qualitative interviews and ethnographic fieldwork with PWUD who access these programs. We found that these distribution programs play an important function in bridging access to cannabis for PWUD in a structurally disadvantaged neighborhood and do so by implementing few restrictions on who can access, providing a variety of cannabis products that would otherwise be inaccessible, and distributing cannabis at no cost. In addition, many people reported the program spaces provided an avenue to socialize and connect. Most of our participants reported that legal cannabis was inaccessible both through the legal medical and non-medical systems. Considering Canadian governments have made important regulatory changes in regards to cannabis, understanding emerging patterns and the structural barriers to accessing legal cannabis will be critical to maximizing the potential uses of cannabis as a harm reduction tool and ensuring equitable access to structurally disadvantaged populations. Examining the impact of cannabis use on PWUD and ensuring these groups have access to cannabis is an important component in determining whether cannabis deregulation reduces drug-related harms.

PMID: 32289590 [PubMed – as supplied by publisher]

Source: ncbi 2

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Categories: Medical

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