Pubdate: Thu, 30 Mar 2017
Source: Mid-North Monitor (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Mid-north Monitor
Author: Helen Morley
Page: A1


The La Cloche Foot hills Drug Strategy ( LFDS) met on Wednesday, March
8 to discuss needle exchange programs, new marijuana legislation and
opioid abuse in this area.

Representatives were present from the Sudbury and District Health
Unit, Sud bury and District Social Services Board, Espanola Police
Services, M'Chigeeng Health Services, Espanola and Area Family Health
Team, as well as Sagamok Anishnawbek Community Wellness.

Aimee Bel anger, public health nurse with SDHU and chair of LFDS,
discussed staff at the SDHU receiving training for the needle exchange
program. Belanger said she is hoping to have it up and running in the
spring. Mark Forsythe, an alternative program worker with M'Chi ge eng
and M'Nendamowin Health Services on Manitoulin Island, said there is a
needle exchange program in effect on the island, and there will be
some training done in Espanola. There will be an upcoming presentation

Fern Assinewe, Community Wellness director for Sagamok, would like to
see training for that area as well. A needle exchange program has just
been implemented there in the couple of weeks. It was also mentioned t
hat public works people will need safety protocol training to know how
to safely handle discarded needles.

Brenda Stankiewicz, public health nurse with SDHU, updated the members
on t he upcoming legalization of marijuana. While the date set for
legalization is April 20 at 4: 20 p.m ., Stankiewicz says Bill Blair,
former Toronto police chief, is still touring the provinces to get
input from law enforcement people. He is one of two parliamentary
secretaries to the minister of justice. It was interesting that the
tobacco industry also weighed in on the issue of smoking. Stankiewicz
says they would like to see the legal smoking age increased from 18 to
age 21.

Katie Wiebenga, with SDHU, said it is important to keep the minimum
age to purchase marijuana at 25. This is because the brain is still
developing until that age. It was agreed as well that children should
definitely not have access to the drug. It was also recommended that
there be zero tolerance for marijuana usage when behind the wheel.

She pointed out that with cannabis intoxication there is a delayed
reaction time, which increases the possibility of becoming involved in
an accident. If there is any amount in the driver' s system they are
legally impaired. When it comes to testing, it was agreed that a swab
should be used instead of a blood test. Marijuana can be detected in
the blood for days after its use.

 From the law enforcement perspective, Edwards said there is a standard
field sobriety test, and from there an expert can be called in.

The federal government will need to have in place laws concerning the
cultivation and sale of marijuana. It is the view of the LFDS that
there should be no personal cultivation, sale or sharing.

Provincial laws should also mandate that there will be no public
smoking of pot or social sharing. They would also like to see local
municipal bylaws mandating no personal growing of marijuana, store
front selling or sharing. Ideally, the LFDS would like to see a mail-
to-order system instead of stores selling since it would be easier to

Edwards weighed in on this suggestion saying it is unlikely that
people would be willing to wait three days to receive an order by mail
and would probably turn to an illegal source. If there was one store
in the community, which was authorized to sell marijuana that would
lessen the illegal buying.

"Every community needs a store front. Don't sell to

He went on to say that minors would not be allowed into such a store
and they should not be allowed in liquor stores either. There was a
question raised as to why marijuana could not be sold in the same
outlet as liquor. The answer from Belanger and Wiebenga was it would
be unwise to have pot smoking linked with drinking as it would be
dangerous to combine the two drugs.

Forsythe pointed out that some marijuana currently sold illegally is
already being cut by other illegal drugs, such as cocaine, to try and
get users hooked on more expensive, addictive drugs.

When it comes to opioids, Stankiewicz said there is a federal and
provincial opioid strategy. There are currently a number of actions
being taken.

"High dose opioids are no longer available in our community."

The federal government is making millions available to the provinces
and municipalities. In fact, she said Ottawa was given $ 2.5 million
for their opioid strategy. Ottawa Public Health is planning to create
more detox and treatment centres. The concern in the LaCloche
Foothills area are t he drugs fentanyl and, a new opioid, carfentanil,
which is described as a synthetic opioid analgesic. It is also the
most potent opioid known. Its raw appearance looks just like table
salt. However, just a few granules can trigger a fatal overdose. It
can also be sold as powder, blotter paper, tablets and spray.

The current treatment for opioid overdose is a medication called
naloxone, which reverses the effects of the opioid. Naloxone is
available as an injection or intranasal spray.

Forsythe, pointed out t hat naloxone must be room temperature at all
times. He said he would like to train individuals to train others from
health units, hospitals, police services, firefighters, search and
rescue, as well as other community service providers in how to
administer naloxone.

Belanger agreed that na lox one training is needed in Espanola as t
here are currently 40 interested people waiting to be trained.

Health Canada will be providing more information about naloxone
training for First Nations.

While most of the naloxone kits available are injection, Edwards
mentioned that the police would only be interested in the intra nasal
kits. Pharmacies will also have free naloxone kits available for those
who might need them.

It is currently planned to send a letter to Prime Minister Justin
Trudeau, by the end of this month, outlining the concerns of LFDS and
their recommendations regarding marijuana legalization.

Before this is done, all members will get a chance to respond with
their approval or changes. Once the final draft is approved the letter
will be send out to both the provincial and federal

The Liberal government have announced a legislation is coming in April
that will legalize marijuana by Canada Day 2018.
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