Vancouver, Canada Now Has a Functioning Opioid Vending Machine

The machine was put out to help addicts access safer drugs, but it is debatable whether they need treatment or safer access to drugs.
Loukia Papadopoulos

The city of Vancouver in Canada now hosts a functioning opioid vending machine according to a report by The Guardian. The machine is part of a new project called MySafe that aims to help with the city's drug problem.


 A safer place

The idea comes from Dr. Mark Tyndall, a professor of epidemiology at the University of British Columbia, who was seeking to reduce the number of overdose deaths in the city. These overdoses accounted for 395 deaths last year.

The aim is to give addicts a safer place to get their drugs.

“I think ethically we need to offer people a safer source,” Tyndall told The Guardian. “So basically the idea is that instead of buying unknown fentanyl from an alley, we can get people pharmaceutical-grade drugs.”

This is not the city's only scheme meant to help drug addicts. Vancouver also boasts a supervised injection site. This is a place where users can take their drugs in front of medical professionals. Prescribed Dilaudid or pharmaceutical heroin is also available.

Some see these solutions as an efficient way to help people struggling with drug addiction. Others, however, are opposed.

Not a solution

Dr. Mark Ujjainwalla, an addictions doctor who runs Recovery Ottawa in eastern Canada, told The Guardian that addicts need treatment rather than easier access to substances. 

“If you were a patient addicted to fentanyl [and you came to me], I would say: ‘OK, I will put you in a treatment center for one to three months, get you off the fentanyl, get you stable, get your life back together and then you’ll be fine.’ Why would I want to give you free heroin and tell you to go to a trailer and inject it?"

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“I’ve got people here who have changed their lives. They were in jail, prostituting, and they came to my clinic, we put them on methadone, they got their lives back, they’re working again. Isn’t that a better story?”

Which do you believe is better: treatment or access to drugs? 

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