Vancouver police arrest man operating drug dispensary in Downtown Eastside
Vancouver police officers have arrested a man a day after he began operating an illicit drug dispensary in the Downtown Eastside.
According to a police statement, the 51-year-old man has been arrested for drug trafficking after he started selling cocaine, crack, methamphetamine and heroin out of a mobile trailer parked near the intersection of Main and Cordova streets.
The VPD said it could not name the individual as no charges have been laid.
Wednesday, CBC News spoke with Jerry Martin about the launch of his mobile drug store.
Martin told On the Coast host Gloria Macarenko that he planned to sell illicit drugs in small quantities, up to a maximum of 2.5 grams.
"Providing a safe, clean supply is going to hopefully stop a lot of the overdoses and a lot of the injuries and stop girls from having to do certain things just to get their drugs," he said.
Listen: Jerry Martin explains why he decided to open an illegal drugstore in Vancouver.
Earlier this year, a three-year pilot project approved by Health Canada decriminalized the possession of up to 2.5 grams of opioids, cocaine, methamphetamine and MDMA for British Columbians age 18 and older.
Police spokesperson Const. Tania Visintin stated in a statement that the VPD supports harm reduction services and decriminalization.
"However, we remain committed in our position that drug trafficking will continue to be the subject of enforcement."
Police say they seized two vehicles, body armour, and Canadian currency as part of the ongoing investigation.
They say the man who was arrested has been released from custody pending his next court appearance on the condition he stay away from the Downtown Eastside.
Drug store operator hopes for constitutional challenge
Dozens of people lined up at the entrance to the mobile drug store parked at Main and Cordova to buy drugs Wednesday afternoon.
Martin told CBC News that he was prepared to be arrested once the store opened. In fact, he said one of his goals, if arrested, was to launch a constitutional challenge arguing for a legal safe supply of drugs.
"They've called for a clean, safe supply, the police and the government," he said. "So I'm hoping that they just let me do what they need to do. I mean, they should have done this themselves."
In an email, the City of Vancouver's chief licence inspector said the municipality will not issue business licences for the sale of illicit drugs such as heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine.
"Should the City be made aware of a retailer selling any of these substances or products containing them, they would be subject to enforcement for operating without a valid development permit and/or business licence, which may include orders, fines and/or prosecution," wrote Sarah Hicks.