Vancouver drug advocates barred from symposium on addictions treatment amid protest concerns

published on May 30, 2024 by Cole Schisler in CityNews Vancouver

A planned protest by drug user advocates forced a conference on drug policy and addictions treatment to relocate from downtown Vancouver to Richmond Thursday.

The Policy Roundtable on Substance Prevention, Education and Recovery (PROSPER) Symposium was set to be held at the Sheraton Wall Centre on Burrard Street, but it was moved to the Westin Wall Centre in Richmond after organizers became aware of protests led by the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users (VANDU).

Speakers at the Symposium included Kevin Sabet, a three-time White House Office of National Drug Control Policy advisor, as well as B.C. politicians like John Rustad, Kevin Falcon and Brad West.

VANDU was joined by other advocacy groups including Moms Stop the Harm, and Pivot Legal Society. Excerpts of a group chat and audio recordings were published by National Post columnist Adam Zivo — they show protesters discussing methods to disrupt the symposium.

Those tactics included pouring red dye into hotel fountains, suggestions of spraying attendees with fire extinguishers, yelling during presentations, and filming attendees…

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