Mail in drug testing operation opens in Vancouver

Jul 24, 2019

A Vancouver-based drug advocate, Dana Larsen, has offered Canadians the opportunity to mail him their street drugs to get tested for safety before use. Larsen is the director of the Vancouver Dispensary Society, and according to his website, he tests drugs seven days a week, by mail or in person.

“I have launched a new website to facilitate the analysis of street drugs, allowing all Canadians to find out what is in their supply. Anyone can mail my team a tiny sample of their drugs. We will run tests and email you the results”

Dana Larsen in his article published in The Georgia Straight.

When addressing legal issues concerning sending illicit substances in the mail, Larsen said, “It is technically illegal for me to offer this drug-testing service, but I don’t care, nor do I expect to encounter any legal problems. This is a life-saving service and very necessary. Ideally, Canadians could buy a safe dosage of drugs in a legal manner, but since that isn’t the case, the next best thing is for individuals to get their substances tested.”

Canada Post has released a statement saying it has “no affiliation with [the testing service provided by Larson] and does not support the mailing of illegal substances” due to potential risks to postal workers. “The substances in question are considered non-mailable matter and prohibited by law. If these substances are detected in the mail stream, Canada Post will remove them.”

According to the test results displayed on his website, so far, dozens of people have sent in samples of cocaine, MDMA (ecstasy), CBD and fentanyl. Larsen said the tests are free of charge, although he encourages a $5 donation per test to cover the costs. The test results are posted online, “so people can look at what is being sold locally and make educated decisions.”

In a statement released by Health Canada to the National Post, the agency revealed that it is “particularly concerned about the ongoing contamination of the illegal drug supply with highly toxic substances such as fentanyl and carfentanil, as well as the emergence of new variants of drugs whose effects are unknown.”

In his interview with National Post, Mark Haden, professor in the Faculty of Medicine, at the University of British Columbia, said the testing provided by Larsen puts pressure on drug dealers. “This could create a level of accountability, the idea that drug sellers would start to realize their customers are holding them accountable and saying ‘Look, that’s not good, here’s the proof’,” he said.

Canada is currently facing a national opioid crisis, with the number of overdoses and deaths caused by opioids growing, which has been declared a public health emergency by the government. In April 2019, the new quarterly numbers released by the Public Health Agency of Canada revealed over 10,000 opioid-related deaths since 2016.