By any objective measure, the opiate crisis has affected British
Columbia far more severely than Alberta.
Both legal and illegal opiate use is more prevalent, and it was the
first province to see this unprecedented number of deaths due to
overdoses of fentanyl and other opiates.
B.C.'s response has been robust.
The declaration of a public health state of emergency led to resources
being mobilized across government departments and between all
stakeholders in a co-ordinated plan.
Their Provincial Health Officer reports monthly on the efforts to
combat the crisis, and the province has embraced early harm reduction
measures such as naloxone kits and supervised injection sites.
[continues 400 words]
In a recent Canadian Public Health Association discussion paper, "A
New Approach to Managing Illegal Psychoactive Substances in Canada,"
the point was made emphatically that our current approach to managing
risk is not working.
Here are some of its highlights:
- - A psychoactive substance is a chemical that changes brain function
and results in alterations in perception, mood, consciousness or
behaviour. Societies mitigate the health, social, and economic
consequences of the use and misuse of psychoactive substances such as
alcohol, tobacco, cannabis, opioids, amphetamines, cocaine,
tranquillizers and sleeping pills in a variety of ways with varying
degrees of success. Their effects on population health, however, are
often overshadowed by our fascination with the direct effects of
substance misuse on individuals [e.g. recent rise in the opioid death
rate due to adulteration of the drug supply with fentanyl and its
analogues]. Currently, western societies manage illegal psychoactive
substances largely through prohibition and criminalization and legal
drugs, like tobacco and alcohol, through regulation, restricted
availability and price control. The laws and systems initially
introduced to control these substances reflected the times ! and
prevalent issues of the day, but no longer reflect current scientific
knowledge concerning substance-related harms to individuals, families,
[continues 492 words]
We've all heard the very troubling news reports in Alberta and across
Canada about the growing problem of addiction to opioids, especially
Opioid addition is devastating families and causing an alarming number
of deaths among those who - knowingly or unknowingly - make the
mistake of using it. The issues associated with opioid addiction touch
many different agencies, institutions, public and social service
organizations. It touches families, and it touches
Lethbridge is not immune. Last fall, after hearing about what was
happening in our city, I asked a broad range of leaders and
organizations in our community to come together to collaborate on how
we can respond in the best way possible.
[continues 881 words]
A term we hear with increasing frequency is the claim that we need
"evidence-based policy" on this or that public issue. With the
possible new importance of the B.C. Green party - we'll know more
after the final election count on May 24 - you'll be hearing the
phrase a lot more as the Greens love the term like yogis love mantras.
"Evidence-based policy" started out as a medical term. Doctors wanted
evidence on the effectiveness of a treatment before using it. It is
the empirical method in action. Constant research examines how
patients fare after various procedures, surgeries or drug treatments
so doctors can know which treatments are best.
[continues 632 words]
Legalizing pot shouldn't be this hard to get right
The move toward marijuana legalization is
still not as coherent as
it could be, let's say.
The Liberal legislation, unveiled last month, would establish rules
around THC-impaired driving that may well prove unconstitutional:
science has yet to establish a solid link between a given level of THC
concentration in a driver's blood or saliva and his level of impairment.
Frustratingly, there are still those who use this as an argument
against legalization - as if it would create pot-impaired drivers
where there are none today.
[continues 734 words]
Drug use in jail is a reality and reducing harm is vital, say Richard
Elliott and Rick Lines.
Almost one-third of federal prisoners reported using drugs during the
past six months.
In December 2016, federal Health Minister Jane Philpott committed her
government to a new national drug strategy that reinstates harm
reduction as a non-negotiable pillar. It was a welcome announcement,
signalling a modest shift away from the last decade's emphasis on
prohibition and punishment - policies that continue to kill people who
use drugs in Canada.
[continues 590 words]
Be careful! This is the message to users of illegal drugs from a
community-wide education and awareness campaign that includes a
website, www.FentanylCAnKill.ca .
Drug overdoses have killed hundreds of people in British Columbia. The
most recent report shows that 120 died in March of this year.
The local campaign is in response to a spate of opioid
One day last October, Brantford police and paramedics were called to
three separate incidents, involving four people who overdosed on
fentanyl. That day was similar to an overnight incident in June when
there were four fentanyl overdoses and one death in the city.
[continues 338 words]
As the Trudeau government works overtime to legalize recreational
marijuana in Canada by the summer of 2018, there's a huge job to be
done outside Parliament.
Health officials, educators, parents and the government must somehow
persuade young Canadians to swear off a drug that will suddenly be
legal for adults all around them to use for fun and relaxation.
This won't be easy, especially when teens see Mom and Dad light up a
reefer and are told: "Do as we say, not as we do." But the stakes for
our youth couldn't be higher. New research out of the University of
Waterloo highlights both the harm marijuana is doing to the young as
well as the high number of Canadian teens already indulging in the
[continues 400 words]
I recently attended the regional Driving Schools Association of the
Americas conference in Denver, Colorado. Here are some of the things
we talked about:
Many new teen drivers view sleep as a waste of time. Despite the fact
that between nine and 10 hours is recommended for adolescents by the
medical community, teens are getting not only much less than that, but
poor quality sleep.
A polysomnographic technologist told us that studies show teens who
get only four hours of sleep have about the same crash rate as a drunk
driver. Sleep deprivation is a serious matter, especially for the
young driver. Sleep before midnight is especially valuable and highly
recommended for the youthful driver. Sleep specialists promote being
in bed by 10 p.m. and up at 7 a.m. for teens.
[continues 509 words]
Be careful! This was the message to users of illegal drugs from the
North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit. Drug overdoses have killed
hundreds of people in British Columbia. The most recent report shows
that 120 died in March of this year.
The local warning came as a result of a man using tainted cocaine. He
was taken to the North Bay Regional Health Centre. He was given large
doses of naloxone. It probably saved his life. Drug users are being
told to have a friend standing by when they ingest drugs. If something
goes wrong the friend can dial 911 and perhaps save a life.
[continues 256 words]
A Victoria father wants the power to force his 15-year-old daughter
into a drug-rehabilitation facility. He fears for her life, because
the girl has become a heroin addict, and might also have used
fentanyl. She's been hospitalized at least twice for overdose treatment.
Seven provinces, including Alberta, Ontario and Quebec, have
legislation permitting kids to be admitted involuntarily to detox
centres. But no such option exists in B.C.
This year, Gordon Hogg, the retiring MLA for Surrey-White Rock, tabled
a Safe Care Act, which would have created the required authority.
However, the bill died when the election was called.
[continues 513 words]
No one plans to acquire a drug problem over the course of a lifetime -
and neither do governments.
Yet Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government is nearing its midpoint
in power surrounded by drug problems: serious issues to confront about
legal, illegal and almost-legal substances. Two years ago, as they
campaigned for office, most of these issues were not high (pardon the
pun) on the Liberals' agenda.
First, the legal drugs. The federal Liberals' old allies at Queen's
Park threw a deliberate curveball at Ottawa in the latest provincial
budget when they introduced pharmacare for all Ontario health-card
holders under the age of 25.
[continues 678 words]
"We are moving forward to ensure that we keep ... cannabis out of the
hands of young people." - Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, May 1
The Canadian Press
OTTAWA -During the 2015 election, the federal Liberals campaigned on a
plan to greenlight marijuana for recreational use to keep it of the
hands of children and the profits out of the hands of criminals.
The party's election platform said Canada's current approach -
criminalizing people for possession and use - traps too many Canadians
in the justice system for minor offences.
[continues 934 words]
It's painful on a daily basis to deal with people in the neighbourhood
who have serious addiction issues.
Most everyone in the city, it seems, supports safe injection sites for
intravenous drug addicts going into Edmonton inner-city
neighbourhoods. Everyone except for one lonely group, those people who
have to live near them.
The prospective neighbours don't buy the notion that these sites will
make life better for all.
Edmonton city council, on the other hand, voted overwhelmingly, 10
votes to one, in favour of giving its stamp of approval for safe
[continues 722 words]
It appears the prime minister is blowing smoke out of both sides of
Justin Trudeau is insisting that Canada's police officers continue
enforcing marijuana laws until the drug is legalized, even while
musing recently to Vice Media that perhaps there should be pardons for
those convicted of marijuana possession.
That stance sends mixed signals. It's simply too early for the
discussion. Trudeau should have held off on such speculation until
after marijuana becomes legal.
Instead, intentionally or not, the prime minister has set the
government down a complicated path - much as he did with promises of
legalization in the first place.
[continues 345 words]
The good news: an absurd prohibition on pot is about to end. The bad
news: the Trudeau government has tied itself in knots
EDMONTON - The federal government's plan to legalize marijuana is
another nail in the coffin of Canada's expensive and wasteful war on
drugs. But at what social cost?
Former justice minister Anne McLellan, who chaired the federal task
force on marijuana legalization, and Bill Blair, a former Toronto police
chief, played key roles in the government's new legislation. This
forthright and responsible group examined the complex issues, listened
to many concerned citizens, drafted their reports and made their
[continues 635 words]
The Atlanta City Council is considering making the penalty for getting
caught with pot similar to finding a parking ticket flapping on your
The effort is based on the idea that black residents are
overwhelmingly the target of marijuana enforcement in the city,
staining them with jail time, fines and arrest records that follow
them in life.
The effort was put forward by Councilman Kwanza Hall, a mayoral
candidate who has tried to carve out his place in the crowded mayor's
race by pushing to do away with some quality-of-life offenses such as
spitting, jay walking, idling and loitering - things one often does
while smoking weed.
Street-level 4-20 concerns are about to shift from Vancouver's Sunset
Beach to B.C. C-suites.
The looming legalization in Canada of marijuana's recreational use
pretty much extinguishes the marijuana criminalization protest aspect
of the annual smoke-in.
For businesses in B.C. and elsewhere across the country, the real
challenges of that legalization will migrate into the workplace.
There are, of course, numerous enterprise opportunities in Canada's
pending medical and recreational marijuana boom.
Deloitte has estimated that the annual marketplace value for
recreational marijuana sales alone in Canada could be between $5
billion and $8.7 billion. Total economic impact, Deloitte estimates,
could be closer to $23 billion. But that's just the equation's revenue
[continues 203 words]