MLA Sturko’s Letter to Minister Saks clarifying federal funding of DULF

MLA Sturko’s Letter to Minister Saks clarifying federal funding of DULF

Hon. Ya’ara Saks
Minister of Mental Health and Addictions
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario

Dear Minister Saks,

I am writing to express my concerns regarding the Vancouver-based Drug User Liberation Front (DULF) and to inquire about the current status of federal funding and approval for this organization.

According to DULF, in September 2021 they submitted a grant proposal for funding to Health Canada’s Substance Use and Addictions Program (SUAP) for a Fulfillment Centre and Compassion Club Pilot. It was rejected in March 2022.

In August 2021, DULF submitted a related request for a Section 56 (1) exemption to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. This was rejected in July 2022. An April 2023 article states “DULF is expecting to hear back from Health Canada about its judicial review by the end of summer.”

As you may be aware, alarming information has surfaced that DULF, in the absence of a Section 56 (1) exemption, has been operating a drug trafficking enterprise contrary to federal and provincial laws since July 2022 by running an unsanctioned compassion club.

According to the same April 2023 article, “DULF’s compassion club buys heroin, cocaine, and meth from the dark web and sends it to Substance in Victoria for batch testing. The substances are sent back, measured, packaged, and sold to the club’s 42 members at a fulfillment centre that operates like a regular storefront. Members participate in internal reviews, and researchers from the British Columbia Centre on Substance Use (BCCSU) are helping to gather data to study the impacts.”

To protect British Columbians, I called for an audit of all provincial funds that support this drug trafficking operation. The B.C. Government subsequently cancelled DULF’s contract. Shortly thereafter, Vancouver police raided DULF’s offices and arrested two people.

It is very concerning that organizations allegedly involved in this illegal enterprise with DULF have and do receive federal funding. Substance in Victoria (located at the University of Victoria), which does the drug testing, lists Health Canada SUAP as a funder. The BCCSU indicates their 2019 Heroin Compassion Club position paper was partially funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research through the Canada Research Chairs Program and CIHR Foundation Scheme Grant FDN 331774.

Given what has transpired, I am very concerned for the safety of British Columbians. These two organizations that have allegedly enabled DULF’s operation should be subject to review and audit to ensure federal public tax dollars have not been used to support illegal activity. I am further concerned that approving DULF’s model moves B.C. and Canada a step closer to full legalization and commercialization of all drugs, especially given that organizations have already been established in British Columbia to profit from what they view as a pending legal market for cocaine and other substances.

I hope that you will agree that under the circumstances DULF should not be receiving public funding or approval. I look forward to your response in this regard.


Elenore Sturko
BC United Shadow Minister for Mental Health, Addiction, Recovery & Education
MLA, Surrey South

Shadow Minister for Mental Health, Addiction, Recovery & Education