As Advanced Polls Open, Heroes of Overdose Crisis Endorse Mary Jean Dunsdon for City Council

CANNABIS CULTURE – Today the campaign to elect Mary Jean Dunsdon announced that she has received strong endorsements from two high-profile heroes in Vancouver’s overdose crisis. 

Sarah Blyth is a co-founder of the Overdose Prevention Society, and has helped save hundreds of lives in the Downtown Eastside She has received many accolades for her front-line work on the overdose crisis, including a community leadership award from St Paul’s hospital, and recently the B.C. Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) Jennifer Prosser Wade Award for Courage.

“I am endorsing Mary Jean Dunsdon for Vancouver City Council,” said Blyth, “because she understands that the root problem here is prohibition and the war on drugs. She will fight for the rights of drug users. She’s not going to let the bureaucracy or the system stop her from doing the right thing.”

Tina Shaw works in overdose response at the Maple Overdose-Prevention Site, located in an alley near Main and East. She also recently played the main character in a play called “Illicit: Stories from a harm reduction movement.”

“I live and breath the opioid crisis daily,” said Tina. “There are plenty of people here who have had no one to vote for because there has been no one fighting for them. I’m telling people to vote for Mary Jean. She cares about people, and I know she will make a real difference for us at City Hall.”

“I am humbled by the support of these incredible women,” said Dunsdon. “They are both real heroes who are doing wonderful work in such a desperate situation. Whether or not I win this election, I will continue to push for sensible drug laws and an end to the drug war.”

“Vancouver can be doing more to prevent overdose deaths,” said Dunsdon. “As a city councillor. I will make sure the city implements a free service to test any and all street drugs, for fentanyl or anything else. Right now there is only limited testing for fentanyl available, and only at a few locations. The city needs to invest in better tests and make them much more widely available.”

“I also believe in making cannabis available to opiate users, as a safer alternative,” said Dunsdon. “I have been helping out with the Cannabis Substitution Project, which distributes free cannabis products to opiate users through the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users (VANDU). I’ve seen many times how cannabis can improve lives and help opiate users get clean. The city needs to recognize that cannabis access is part of the solution to the opioid crisis.”

This announcement comes as advanced polls for the by-election open in Vancouver. City resident who wish to vote before election day (October 14th) can cast their ballots today (Oct 4th) and Tuesday October 10th between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. at City Hall.


Photos courtesy Sensible Vancouver (Top Candidate Mary Jean “Watermelon” Dunsdon with Sarah Blythe; Bottom Candidate Dunsdon with Tina Shaw 

Dana Larsen
Dana Larsen

Dana Larsen is the author of "Green Buds and Hash" and "Hairy Pothead and the Marijuana Stone" and a well-known Vancouver cannabis activist, businessman and politician. He served ten years as editor of Cannabis Culture Magazine, is the co-founder of the Vancouver Seed Bank, founder of the Vancouver Dispensary Society, and Vice President of the Canadian Association of Cannabis Dispensaries. Larsen was a founding member of the BC Marijuana Party and the Canadian Marijuana Party. In 2003 he joined the NDP, running as an NDP candidate in 2008. In 2011, he ran for the Leadership of the BC NDP. Larsen is also founder and director of Sensible BC, Canada’s largest grassroots cannabis reform organization.