Jerry Martin opened The Drugs Store out of a mobile trailer in the heart of the Downtown Eastside in May.
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The Vancouver man who opened a drug store in the Downtown Eastside selling illicit hard drugs has died from a reported overdose.
Jerry Martin opened The Drugs Store out of a mobile trailer in the heart of the Downtown Eastside selling drugs such as cocaine, heroin and methamphetamines that were advertised as clean with no impurities or harmful additives.
He died Friday after a suspected fentanyl overdose, reported VICE News. He was 51.
On Saturday, friends and family mourned Martin, posting tributes on social media.
“It was a shock for us,” said Mayleen Martin, who married Martin’s father in 2003.
In an interview from where she lives in Florida, Mayleen described Martin as warm and compassionate, “with a beautiful heart. He had a lot of dreams. We didn’t expect him to go too soon.”
Mayleen was unclear what caused Martin’s death, but said he was found unconscious a few days ago and was hospitalized. After his brain failed to register any sign of activity, his family made the decision to take him off life support on Friday.
Supporters say Martin was a drug legalization advocate who wanted to provide a safe supply of drugs to users amid B.C.’s overdose crisis wrought by a poisoned illicit drug supply.
In May, he opened The Drugs Store on the corner of Main and Cordova Streets, selling illicit hard drugs up to quantities of 2.5 grams per customer — the possession limit allowed under recently relaxed drug decriminalization laws.
The venture was short-lived as it remains illegal to sell or traffic those drugs. A day after Martin set up shop, Vancouver police arrested him and shut down his store.
He had told VICE News that he planned to mount a charter challenge against the federal prohibition on drugs, arguing that banning retail sales contravened charter rights because it causes drug users to turn to the unregulated black market, the products of which carry a higher risk of overdose.
While most people might know Martin because of his illegal drug store, Mayleen said he was more than the headlines.
“I know he made some mistakes in his life,” she said. “In totality, he was a very good person. He was very kind and so generous. He was always helping people.”