I've reached the midpoint in my Advent Policy Brief challenge! Halfway through, I wish I had planned out a few posts in advance instead of deciding to wing it everyday, but nevertheless, I persist. My twelfth Advent Policy Brief is a harm reduction proposal: community gardens for drug plants.
Safe supplies of drugs are unavailable to most drug users. Overdose deaths skyrocketed as COVID travel restrictions choked the flow of drugs into major Canadian ports of entry. Dealer math says getting hands on a small amount of deadly carfentanyl and cutting it with fillers is the best way to address the supply chain shortcoming.
Part of the safe supply conversation needs to acknowledge that most recreational drugs start as plants. The fewest uncertainties in the product chain of any consumable is desirable. Rather than powders and pills of dubious origin, drug users could be growing their own unadulterated drug supply.
Hosting the space and administering the garden is complicated; it would technically be a non-monetary drug operation. In the immediate term, the use of private property seems unavoidable, but it's reasonable to assume that Health Canada would issue an exemption to decriminalize community gardens for drug plants.
Theft would persist as a physical concern. The gardens would need to be fenced or walled in, and video surveillance would be prudent. A locked greenhouse would be ideal.
Community centers are best suited to assume the educational component about cultivation, preparation, consumption, and harm reduction. The more broadly available this knowledge is, the weaker stigma against drug use becomes.
On a semi-related note: including drug plant cultivation techniques in post-secondary agricultural sciences curricula could greatly raise the appeal of those programs and farming as a career choice.