The booklet provided tips that were deemed inappropriate for minors, such as encouraging the presence of condoms and lube and suggesting the decoration of snorting equipment for personal identification. Additionally, the booklet highlighted various drugs that can be consumed through snorting, including cocaine, crystal meth, fentanyl, and ketamine. Despite claims by the Cowichan Valley School District that the distribution was carried out by a third party and was not in line with their policies, a full investigation was launched to review their protocols regarding third-party presentations.
CATIE, the organization responsible for manufacturing and distributing the Safer Snorting booklet, receives significant funding from government grants, including the Public Health Agency of Canada and the Ontario Ministry of Health. The controversy shed light on the availability of harm reduction supplies, such as snorting straws, offered by the province-run BC Centre for Disease Control. The center even switched to biodegradable paper straws in 2021 for environmental reasons.
Although the distribution of drug paraphernalia is not typical in Canadian public schools, post-secondary institutions like York University and the University of Victoria have faced similar incidents. These universities have harm reduction centers that provide free supplies, including “safer snorting supplies,” “safer injection supplies,” and “safer smoking supplies,” without ID verification or limitations. The University of Victoria’s Harm Reduction Centre even allows anonymous ordering and pick-up.
This latest incident involving a third party invited to speak to students highlights the need for stricter oversight and adherence to appropriate content guidelines in schools. It mirrors a previous incident where a public health nurse distributed cards with explicit descriptions of sex acts to grade eight students at a school in Fort Nelson, B.C., raising concerns about the choice of speakers and the materials provided to students.