Pubdate: Wed, 13 Sep 2017
Source: Record, The (Kitchener, CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Metroland Media Group Ltd.
Author: Luisa D'Amato
Page: B1


We're about to get legal marijuana, for heaven's sake.

So why are they taking away over-the-counter painkillers with

Of all the promises made by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau before the
election, I'm not thrilled that legal pot is the one he chooses to
keep (I'd have preferred electoral reform), but here we are, ready or
not. Mostly not. Police chiefs are warning MPs in Ottawa this week
that it could be "impossible" for law enforcement to get trained in
time for legal marijuana, scheduled to begin next summer. They're
asking for an extension of the deadline for legal pot.

A number of other good questions are being asked. There is a lot of
uncertainty about how police should handle impaired driving offences
involving marijuana.

Police are also warning about unforeseen consequences involving
proposed new rules that will allow people to grow their own marijuana
plants in their homes. What about increased break-and-enter offences
as people try to steal these plants? What about children having access
to these plants because, well, they're growing in the family's home?

La, la, la. We're moving ahead anyway.

But what's really odd in this brave new world of weed is that the
government wants to end the long-standing practice of selling
painkiller drugs containing codeine over the drugstore counter.

Health Canada is proposing a requirement that people get a
prescription if they want codeine. It's a bizarre decision. Plenty of
people who wouldn't dream of lighting up a joint have gone to a
pharmacist and asked for these drugs. They effectively take the edge
off pain from ailments like toothaches, back spasms, severe headaches
or menstrual cramps.

A pharmacist questions you, and decides whether you should get it or
not, which is more than is going to happen for marijuana.

Pharmacists in town have mixed opinions about the government's

Mais Al-Sheikhly, pharmacist at Westmount Pharmacy in Waterloo, said
she would prefer not to sell it over the counter.

"I think it's being abused," she said. She thinks some customers are
addicted and go to multiple pharmacies.

Pharmacist Dragana Perunicic, at King Pharmacy in downtown Kitchener,
says she often refuses customers if she thinks they're addicted.

But there are other times when she can see that the person is in pain
and "it's really that they can't see a doctor at the moment," and
she'll sell it to them.

I laughed out loud when the government solemnly informed the Canadian
public this week that this new restriction is going to happen because
people have become addicted to codeine.

About 1,300 people a year enter treatment programs for this addiction,
we are told.

Oh, please. They're about to create a marijuana free-for-all! Do they
really expect us to think they care about people getting addicted?

The potential for increased addiction is actually huge with marijuana,
because its use is so widespread.

There are 26 million adult Canadians, of whom about 18 to 20 per cent,
depending on the study you consult, consumed marijuana in the past
year. About a third of those use it several times a week or every day.
Of those, about 10 per cent develop a dependency.

Conservative estimates show about 154,000 Canadians who are dependent
on pot now. If it's legalized, that number will certainly go up.

Legalizing pot allows government to keep some important controls on
it, such as ensuring the supply is not laced with poisonous substances.

But there is also little doubt that more people will use marijuana
once it becomes legal. A Forum poll in 2015 concluded that 20 per cent
of Canadians smoked pot in the previous year, but more than 30 per
cent said they would do so once it becomes legal.

If the number of users goes up by that much, it follows that so will
the number of addicts. Based on this reasoning, we can expect 77,000
additional people to become dependent on marijuana as a result of its
being legalized.

So please, Health Canada, wipe away your crocodile tears about a
couple of thousand people who got addicted to over-the-counter codeine.

The stark truth is that governments everywhere love

They're addicted to the money they make from your addiction, whether
that is to cigarettes, gambling, alcohol or pot.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Matt