Episode 35: On the Clock

Sex workers who use drugs are doubly criminalized. They have to look out for bad dope and bad dates. And change comes slow.

Fights for incremental change don’t get at the big structures that cause so much harm. Are they worth it?

We wonder about this when it comes to drug decriminalization. Next year it’ll be legal to carry small amounts of opioids, meth, coke and MDMA in British Columbia. We fought hard for this. Of course, the government’s concession is a watered down version of our original demand. But limiting police discretion to lock us up is a step in the right direction. At least we hope so.

The prohibition of sex work began centuries before drug prohibition. Sex workers have long had dangerous working conditions imposed on them by puritanic laws. The criminalization of drug use and sex work has made both unnecessarily risky.

But reforms have been won over the years. In 2014, selling sex was decriminalized in Canada. And since 2020, BC has offered a version of safer supply to a few thousand drug users.

In the wilderness of laws that continue to criminalize most aspects of sex work and most aspects of drug use – do these reforms matter? On today’s episode I explore this idea with sex worker advocates, Jlynn and Jade, as well as academics, Andrea Krüsi and Jenn McDermid.