Imagine Safe Supply is a community-based research project that explores ideas about participation in safe supply. Between January and June of 2021, we interviewed 33 people who use drugs and frontline workers from across British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec about what they want and need for safe supply.

Safe supply means drugs that are legally regulated with a known potency and composition. In this research, we considered safe supply to center the choices of drug users, including options that don’t necessarily focus on reduction or abstinence of drug use.

The people leading this research include people who use drugs and frontline workers, as well as graduate students and staff of the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition at Simon Fraser University. As a team, we co-designed and led every stage of the project, including research design, interviews, data analysis, and knowledge sharing. We carried out this work with the understanding that people who use drugs are closest to the problem of the toxic drug supply. We can’t move forward to find solutions without their vision and leadership.

We used the word ‘imagine’ in the title of this research because we asked people what safe supply would look like on their own terms, without barriers and stigma. Imagination can be a powerful framework for research as it has a transformative potential to see beyond existing conditions. This research built on the visionary agency of people who use drugs and frontline workers to chart new horizons of possibility in drug policy.

Our intention in sharing this research is to contribute to awareness and dialogue on safe supply in a way that is destigmatizing; to network people using drugs, frontline organizations, prescribers, and policy makers around value-based understandings of safe supply; and to encourage people with decision-making power to listen and actively respond to the needs and perspectives of people using drugs.

Summary of Findings

Meet the Team

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Phoenix Beck McGreevy

Community Research Associate

Céline Côté

Community Research Associate
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Frank Crichlow

Community Research Associate
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Mikki Schell

Community Research Associate

Erica Schoen

Community Research Associate

Erin Howley

Senior Research Associate
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Sean O'Callaghan

Graduate Research Associate

Donald MacPherson

Principal Investigator

Jack Farrell

Graduate Research Associate

Karmvir Padda

Graduate Research Associate

Research Advisory

Dr. Marie-Eve Goyer, University of Montreal
Dr. Alissa Greer, Simon Fraser University
Dr. Elaine Hyshka, University of Alberta
Dr. Gillian Kolla, University of Victoria

Research Presentations

This presentation focuses on community-based values:

  • Who took part in the Imagine Safe Supply research?
  • What values are important to drug user participation in safe supply?
  • What are the elements of safe supply programs?
  • How can safe supply be designed in effective ways?
  • What are some best practices for safe supply planning and evaluation?

In the Q&A we talk about ways to share these findings and our team's experience in leading this research.

This presentation focuses on prescribed safe supply:

  • Who took part in this research?
  • Why is a value-based approach to safe supply important?
  • What are constraints and barriers people faced with prescribed safe supply?
  • What are ways to address these barriers, with attention to issues of drug resale and sharing, eligibility criteria, and prescriber relationships?
  • What happened when we asked people to imagine an ideal safe supply?
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Please stay tuned for the release of the Imagine Safe Supply zine!

Thank you to our funding partners

Thank you to our project partners