Article by Simone Castleman, High! Canada
The High! Canada team has traveled coast to coast this summer exploring cannabis communities in multiple regions. We constantly strive to stay up to date on current events and engagements within the cannabis community as well being able to experience movements going on in our industry in a way that is “as hands-on” as possible.
This past month High! Canada traveled to Vancouver for the Cannabis Life Expo, which was a wonderful event, filled with exceptional networking opportunities. Along our journey we met up with Miss Envy, who took us to meet with Sarah Blyth, the founder of the Overdose Prevention Society for grassroots, peer-led harm reduction in Vancouver.
Sarah told us about the ongoing High Hopes Foundation work that they were doing in that diverse and marginalized community and it was inspiring beyond belief. From that powerful visit – we knew we had to spread the word and help this very important cause any way we could.
We walked the streets of East Hastings in Vancouver to see first hand how the opioid epidemic was impacting Vancouver. Sarah has been running an ongoing investigation trying to ind possible alternatives to opioids and reduce the overdose rate, which is exceedingly high at 935 overdoes deaths in 2016 expecting to double for 2017 province wide. Sarah had discovered cannabis to be an effective method for substitution of opioids during her intensive research.
Sarah alongside Miss Envy teamed up and formed the nonprofit organization -High Hopes, where cannabis edibles are used to help reduce the use of opioids within this particular community in Vancouver. Although edibles are not allowed to be sold in Vancouver right now, Sarah is working closely with her community and the City of Vancouver to continue to work towards establishing a regulated way to use edibles, as it is an overall benefit to the population.
“We were the model for the overdose-prevention sites”, Sarah says, “but I think we also have the leeway, respect, and relationships with people that are using drugs, that people know we know what we’re doing,”
Miss Envy contributes by donating her line of THC infused coconut and olive oil to bake healthy edibles – giving addicts a source of nutrition along side cannabis to help with pain, detox and nourishing their bodies. Miss Envy has also been working actively at raising awareness for the High Hopes Foundation’s work with cannabis representatives across Canada. The response from the community has been overwhelmingly positive and it is heartening to once again see the national cannabis community coming together to support and help one another.
Visiting the East Hasting Market and seeing this vibrant marketplace first hand and hearing stories from patients who were in attendance was incredible. The amount of gratitude the community illustrates towards Sarah and Miss Envy really shines the light on what a difference this foundation is making within the community and within a number of individual lives. Sarah works very hard, every day, seven days a week ensuring that everything runs as smoothly as possible with this amazing program but in order to expand the services they offer they need help and contributions are put to excellent use.