Driven by the opioid crisis, mothers become activists and call on Ottawa to decriminalize drugs

published on February 28, 2018 by Travis Lupick in The Georgia Straight

A noisy street protest marched through downtown Vancouver on February 20 calling for government action on overdose deaths. The crowd mostly consisted of the usual sort of Downtown Eastside rabble-rousers who have pushed drug-policy reform in B.C. for decades. But marching with them this time was a straight-looking contingent of middle-class women.

One of them was Louise Cameron, who told the Straight that she joined up with the national group Moms Stop the Harm (MSTH) in the summer of 2017.

“A dear friend of mine lost her son to a fentanyl poisoning,” she recounted. “It was the third friend in 18 months who’d lost a child to fentanyl.

“And it just lit a big ol’ fire in my heart,” Cameron continued. “I thought, ‘Okay, enough. Time to do more.’ ”

Since then, Cameron, who also lost a child to addiction, has worked with MSTH’s B.C. members on specific policies they believe will reduce overdose deaths.

“The big push right now is about PharmaNet,” she said.

PharmaNet is a B.C.–wide computer system that allows doctors and pharmacists across B.C. to access information on every patient and all their prescriptions. If someone walks into a clinic, claims a sore back, and asks a doctor for an opioid painkiller like OxyContin, the doctor can log on to PharmaNet to see if they have a history with addiction.

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