A free service opened this week offering confidential drug checking in Victoria.
The storefront is part of an innovative harm reduction approach operated by the Vancouver Island Drug Checking project, started by a group of scientists from the University of Victoria.
The drug testing service is located at 1802 Cook Street and is open from 12-7 p.m., Mondays through Fridays.
Substance UVic uses multiple drug checking instruments to determine a sample’s main active ingredients, fillers or cutting agents, any unexpected drugs, and the presence of fentanyl.
The client comes in for the free service, anonymously. Workers collect the sample and gather information about what the client believes the substance to be. Substance UVic tests the sample and after 15-20 minutes, they are able to determine the active ingredients in the substance.
This is the first of its kind in BC.
“We want to implement quality measures so that people can have quality controls in the illicit market, we want people to have control over what they’re taking,” said Piotr Burek, Service Coordinator for the Vancouver Island Drug Checking project,
January and February were some of the deadliest months regarding opioid-related deaths and toxicity of illicit drug supplies.
Substance UVic is designated as an overdose prevention service meant to combat, evaluate, intervene, provide, and empower substance-users, Burek told Victoria Buzz.
With attention to harm reduction and social justice policy, the group said their services are due to the impacts of the current drug policy making illicit substances illegal.
“The ultimate goal would be for the government to decriminalize illicit substances, meaning the decriminalization of the transportation, the supply, and the use of these substances,” said Burek.
The Vancouver Island Drug Checking project publishes monthly reports about the results of its testing online.
The reports include information about the number of samples that test positive for fentanyl, carfentanil and benzodiazepines and what kinds of drugs they were found in.
Burek told Victoria Buzz he is hopeful that there will be amendments to the Province’s public health order to allow the scale up and expansion of their services throughout Vancouver Island.