A request to city council from a local non-profit for a temporary use permit that would allow the distribution of free or at cost cannabis as a way of harm reduction will proceed to a public hearing by a unanimous vote.
A report from SOLID Outreach is asking the city for a three-year temporary use permit at
that would allow them to distribute cannabis, in addition to the other harm reduction services offered, for a pilot overdose prevention project, in consultation with the University of Victoria’s Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research.
SOLID has been operating a cannabis substitution program (CSP) since December 2017 and has seen encouraging results. A 2019 study from the University of Victoria found that of the 71 people who answered questions, 58 noted a decrease in drug use, with some people reporting their drug use had been eliminated entirely within the first year of operating.
A letter from Island Health’s Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Richard Stanwick helped garner support from Coun. Geoff Young and Coun. Charlayne Thorton-Joe during Thursday’s Committee of the Whole meeting.
Stanwick notes there is promising evidence emerging from studies on CSP, which suggests “that cannabis has a potential role as part of a broader strategy to support people who use other substances.”
It was noted that neighbours have voiced concerns about the concentration of services in that area.
SOLID has proposed an onsite street ambassador, who would complete regular walks around the block to ensure people are using appropriately and to discourage congregation.
A date for the public hearing has not been set yet.