"We have laws!": Canadians react after cops put brakes on cocaine store on wheels

May 4 2023, 10:18 pm

A controversial Canadian drug store that opened and closed in Vancouver has led to divisive reactions online.

Jerry Martin’s new The Drugs Store began selling illegal drugs from a mobile store on Wednesday night in the East Hastings area of the city.

The very next day, Vancouver police announced that he was arrested.

Calling it a harm-reduction initiative, the store offered cocaine, MDMA, opioids, and other drugs to paying customers. Martin said the drugs were tested fentanyl-free.

Many suggested that the business shouldn’t have been allowed to operate, with politicians and members of the public asking for the store to be shut down.

Others applauded Martin for his work in advocating for safe drugs.

What becomes of the Vancouver drug store remains to be seen, but Martin said he would launch a charter fight if arrested.

Vocal advocates and opponents

The initial news of the opening sparked a tense debate on social media, with many calling Martin out for his illegal activities, while others suggested he was filling a gap for safe supply in Vancouver.

Even following the news of Martin’s arrest, many were still split on the move.

Have you thought about doing something productive instead?” said someone in response to Vancouver police’s tweet about the arrest.

Another user said, “Heaven forbid – getting untainted non-poisonous drugs.”

Someone else was surprised by the fact that people were supporting Martin’s quest.

Aaron Gunn is a documentary filmmaker who made the film Vancouver is Dying, and his tweet, which seemed to be in condemnation of the store opening, received a ton of reaction and nearly 800,000 views.

Many responded to his tweet suggesting the business venture was a good thing.

Following Daily Hive’s coverage of the unique business venture, media publications around North America, including Vice News, covered the store opening news.

The Vancouver drug-store-on-wheels was attached to the back of a covered truck and was not a licensed business. However, while this tactic is not entirely uncommon for people to become “entrepreneurs” in the city, being so public and openly selling sure is.

It’s a small black structure, reminiscent of a tiny home, where staff are separated from customers by a glass partition.

the drugs store photo

Jerry Martin/Submitted

“Basically, we’re going to provide safe, tested drugs that will reduce overdoses for sure,” he told Daily Hive in January.

While BC decriminalized the possession of small amounts of some substances, selling and buying remain illegal.

With files from Megan Devlin and Claire Fenton

Amir AliAmir Ali

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