A request by a Victoria non-profit for a temporary use permit to allow distribution of free or at-cost cannabis for harm reduction purposes is proceeding to a public hearing.
Victoria city council voted unanimously Sept. 3 to send SOLID Outreach’s application for a three-year permit to do so out of its North Park Street location to the public comment stage.
SOLID is looking to distribute cannabis, in addition to other harm reduction services it offers, as part of a pilot overdose prevention project in consultation with the University of Victoria’s Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research.
SOLID has operated 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 in the program who responded to a survey, 58 noted a decrease in drug use, and some reported their drug use had been eliminated entirely within the first year.
A letter from Island Health’s chief medical health officer, Dr. Richard Stanwick, helped garner support from Coun. Geoff Young and Coun. Charlayne Thornton-Joe during the Sept. 3 committee of the whole meeting.
Stanwick wrote that 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 also noted that neighbours have voiced concerns about the concentration of services in the North Park neighbourhood.
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.