Free drug vending machines: Opioid “ATMs” to be installed in NS, Ontario, BC this week

Free drug vending machines: Opioid “ATMs” to be installed in NS, Ontario, BC this week

Automatic drug-dispensing machines are set to be installed across Canada by the end of the week with help from a $500,000 grant from the federal government's Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA).

Five MySafe Verified Identity Dispensers will be deployed to Victoria, British Columbia, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia and London, Ontario.

The Nova Scotia based company Dispension Industries Inc. spoke with local media about how the ATMs will work:

"People who are using illicit substances, have a history of overdose and test for fentanyl on their urine are eligible for the program," [company president Corey] Yantha explains in an interview with NEWS 95.7.

"Once they're eligible, they'll be evaluated by a physician and the physician will identify the amount of medication they can access on a daily basis."

Dr. Mark Tyndall, an originator of the MySafe pilot project, spoke with The Globe and Mail about the program:

Dr. Tyndall said the machines are programmed to an individual drug user’s needs, while giving them a certain amount of autonomy and also freeing them from stigma.

“If they know that they have a secure supply of these drugs their life changes automatically,” he said. “They don’t have to get up in the morning and go and steal something or find money in the informal economy.”

The MySafe pilot project began last year in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.

In May, Dr. Theresa Tam's Public Health Agency of Canada blamed socially distant drug use and illegal supply chain interruptions for the spike of fatal overdoses from British Columbia to Nova Scotia:

We know that using drugs alone is a major risk factor for experiencing a fatal overdose. This is why it is so important to never use drugs alone... If you are isolated because of COVID-19, connect virtually to someone close by who can monitor you and be ready to call 9-1-1 (or your local emergency help line) if needed.

The MySafe dispensers weigh 360 kg, and installation includes bolting the units to the floors of pharmacies and safe injection sites.

Dispension Industries Inc. plans to open a 20,000 square foot research and development facility in downtown Dartmouth, Nova Scotia to assist with the “rejuvenation” of the community.

The group anticipates a “possible contract with Health Canada” and is “considering applying its secure dispensation technology to the pharmaceutical, lottery and cannabis markets.”