Organized crime sells B.C.’s 'safe supply' drugs across Canada, says the RCMP

Corp. Jennifer Cooper of the RCMP’s Prince George detachment warns of the dangers posed by organized crime groups involved in the distribution of so-called 'safe supply' and prescription drugs.

Organized crime sells B.C.’s 'safe supply' drugs across Canada, says the RCMP
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The RCMP has confirmed that hard drugs obtained legally in B.C. are being sold across Canada through organized crime. 

The national police service made the discovery after seizing thousands of opiate pills in Prince George, B.C. originally obtained through the province’s “safe supply” program, reported The National Post.

“Organized crime groups are actively involved in the redistribution of safe supply and prescription drugs,” confirmed Corp. Jennifer Cooper of the RCMP’s Prince George detachment.

According to the RCMP spokesperson, some drug users appear unsatisfied with the government’s supply of narcotics.

She told the publication the issue emerged recently with users “selling them to organized crime groups in exchange for more potent illicit drugs.”

The RCMP’s Street Crew Unit obtained search warrants that uncovered several drug trafficking groups dealing tens of thousands of pills, including hydromorphone — a less potent form of fentanyl.

In February, the RCMP confiscated more than 3,500 hydromorphone pills in Campbell River, B.C., cementing the presence of “a well-organized drug trafficking operation” in the province.

Dozens of addiction medicine experts have since rendered the 'safe supply' program a failure, partly to hydromorphone not getting fentanyl users sufficiently high.

Experts widely claim that users only consume enough hydromorphone to pass urine and traffic tests and then purchase 'hard drugs' on the black market.

Cooper said that although the origin of the drugs is referred to as safe supply, it does not make the drugs safe.

“It concerns us because the end users who are getting these prescription pills, it’s not been prescribed for them, they don’t know the dosages,” she added. “It might mean how we regulate our safe supply might need a sober second glance.”

Addiction physicians note that hydromorphone's street price fell 70% to 95% in areas with 'safer supply' programs, resulting in users with lower opioid tolerances abusing the drug — particularly the youth.

“If these are getting into the hands of our youth or young adults who may think this is a safe way to get high, it is concerning to us,” said Corp. Cooper.

The RCMP investigation into ‘safe supply’ reiterates concerns among opponents to the program, including Opposition leader Pierre Poilievre, who contends the federal “safe supply” drug policy is ‘senseless’ and ‘destructive.’ 

Since April 2016, drug overdoses have killed nearly 14,000 people in B.C. and over 32,000 people nationwide. Health Canada blamed fentanyl for the overwhelming majority (76%) of those deaths. 

The federal agency granted the province a subsection 56(1) exemption last January 31 for three years under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act to decriminalize people who possessed up to 2.5 grams of heroin, crack, cocaine, fentanyl, MDMA and meth.

A record 2,511 British Columbians died of fatal overdoses last year, contravening the intent behind ‘safe supply’ programs.

“I am to the point [where] I don't even know what motivates the policy right now,” Poilievre said Friday during a speaking engagement with Vancouver’s business community.

“At first I thought it was just sort of a naïve Utopianism that was driving this idea of giving out free drugs and decriminalizing these poisons,” contends Poilievre. “But now the evidence is so clear that it has been a nightmare.”

“You have to ask yourself, what is motivating this policy?”

The Commons last May 29 upheld the “safe supply” policy by a 209 to 113 vote. Poilievre sponsored a countermotion to “redirect all funds from … hard drug programs to addiction treatment and recovery programs” that did not pass.

Cooper told The National Post she realizes the issue is politically charged.

“I would guess this is going to get some political attention because we are pointing out what has been deemed safe is not being kept safe,” she said. “It’s taxpayers that pay for this safe supply through our tax dollars that go towards our health units.”

“It’s not only a problem for police, but it’s a problem for everybody who lives here and sees the cause and effects of this continuing to happen.”

The Department of Health in a report disclosed January 10 acknowledged the policy had minimal impacts on addiction despite costing $820.1 million, reported Blacklock’s Reporter

The Trudeau Liberals have committed more than $1 billion to address the overdose fatalities since 2017, according to a December 2023 update detailing federal actions. This included more than $359.2 million allocated in Budget 2023 over five years for the renewed Canadian Drugs and Substances Strategy (CDSS).

“People have continued to engage in opioid use behaviour that increases risk of harm,” said the report Horizontal Evaluation Of The Canadian Drugs And Substances Strategy. “Minimal changes since 2017 to rates of high-risk substance use suggest further prevention efforts are required.”

According to in-house Privy Council research, most Canadians oppose the “safe supply” policy. “Participants were mostly negative,” said a 2023 report Continuous Qualitative Data Collection Of Canadians’ Views.

Asked about opioid addiction, British Columbians in federal focus groups called it a major worry. “All believed this to be a significant issue, and many were of the view that rising rates of addiction had contributed to increased crime in their communities,” said the report.

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