Man arrested after launching Vancouver drug store to sell meth
Man arrested after launching Vancouver drug store to sell meth

Less than 24 hours after opening a Vancouver brick and mortar store to sell heroin, cocaine, meth, MDMA, and a host of other drugs, the entrepreneur behind the store has been arrested. 

According to Vice News, Jerry Martin, 51, opened the Drug Store on Wednesday in the city’s Eastside — a pocket of Canada known for being plagued by the addiction, homelessness and mental health crisis. 

Vancouver police said Thursday they arrested a man for drug trafficking “in connection with an illicit drug dispensary that began operating yesterday in the Downtown Eastside.”

Credit: Vice News

In January, BC began a three-year drug decriminalization program for possession of small amounts of opioids, cocaine, MDMA, and meth. The pilot did not extend to the sale of illicit drugs, so the store was operating illegally. 

Police said they began gathering evidence “after the suspect started selling cocaine, crack, methamphetamine, and heroin out of a mobile trailer parked near Main and Cordova streets.”

“We support measures aimed at improving public safety for people who use drugs, including harm reduction services and decriminalization,” Constable Tania Visintin said in a press release. 

“However, we remain committed in our position that drug trafficking will continue to be the subject of enforcement.”

Prior to his arrest, Martin told VICE News he opened the store because he wants to give people drugs without adulterants. 

“People are dying,” he said. “Especially now, they’ve allowed the entire province to do these drugs… But they’ve provided no clean, safe supply. They’re getting it from the same supply that everybody’s overdosing from.” 

In total, a record 1,644 people died from illicit drugs in the first nine months of 2022. Drug deaths are the leading cause of unnatural death in BC, with 10,505 people dying since a public health emergency was declared in 2016. 

Marshall Smith, chief of staff to Alberta’s premier, said the shop signifies the “ultimate goal” of the liberalization movement.

“Their goal is the full legalization and commercialization of hard drugs,” he told True North. 

Smith was a homeless drug addict on the streets of Vancouver for four years before treatment. He’s since became a strong advocate for treatment and works within the political system to bring about change. 

Under his watch, the UCP has prioritized treatment over safe supply and has spent hundreds of millions towards implementing vision. 

“It’s been a long distance to travel from where I was to here,” he told True North in December. 

“For those that are out there suffering or having difficulty with this, know not only is recovery possible, but you can get your life back and go on to do great things.” 

Martin planned to sell users a max of 2.5 grams of each drug — the amount a person can have without facing criminal consequences under the province’s pilot program. He also said he would charge street prices, with grams of cocaine and meth going for $90 and $50, respectively. 

Prior to his arrest, Martin’s lawyer Paul Lewin had prepared arguments to launch a constitutional challenge. 

“He would allege that laws that prevent a safe supply and result in death by poisoning contravene section 7 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and must be struck down,” Lewin wrote in a letter to Martin’s potential landlords and business partners. 

Under Section 7 of the Charter, which was used to strike down medical cannabis restrictions, Canadians have “the right to life, liberty, and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.” 

In Canada, the maximum penalty for selling Schedule I or II drugs is life in prison. 

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