Seldom a day goes by when financial pages don't highlight new
developments in the marijuana industry.
So, this is who we are today. Former B.C. Health Minister Terry Lake
is now on the corporate board of a major marijuana company. Former
Toronto police chief and current MP Bill Blair is a point man on
marijuana legalization. Former B.C. Solicitor General and West
Vancouver Police Chief Kash Heed is a consultant for marijuana
companies. The list of government and policing honchos who have jumped
on the bandwagon is substantial.
[continues 757 words]
TORONTO - An aging construction worker arrived quietly in the
building's basement, took his seat alongside three other men and
struck his lighter below a cooker of synthetic heroin.
A woman, trained to intervene in case of an overdose, placed a mask
over her face as his drug cooked and diluted beneath a jumping flame.
He injected himself, grew still and then told of the loss of his wife
who died alone in her room upstairs - an overdose that came just a few
months before this social service nonprofit opened its doors for
[continues 1757 words]
It's all about harm reduction and improving community health outcomes
No doubt some Hamiltonians are chuckling to hear city council is
considering banning sugary drinks from city buildings to protect
With good reason.
The proposed ban by the public health department lands at the same
time the city is moving ahead with opening its first safe injection
site for drug addicts.
It's more than a little ironic that the city may be cracking down on
sugar while enabling the use of illegal drugs like heroin and cocaine.
[continues 581 words]
Doug Ford says he is "dead against" supervised injection sites and
believes the focus should be on drug rehabilitation instead.
And if elected premier of Ontario in June, the Progressive
Conservative Leader says he will do everything he can to fight the
opioid crisis and get people who are struggling with addiction the
help they need.
"If your son, daughter, loved one ever had an addiction, would you
want them to go in a little area and do more drugs? I am dead against
that," Mr. Ford said Friday. "We have to help these people. We can't
just keep feeding them and feeding them."
[continues 541 words]
Some remain skeptical the proposed Cannabis Act (Bill C-45) will
achieve one of its primary objectives: protecting youth from
cannabis-related harms. Some feel the minimum age should be higher
than the minimum age for alcohol, worried that those under 25 seem
more vulnerable to dependence and health problems linked to long-term,
Critics of the proposed minimum age may be overlooking another primary
objective: displacing the black-market. Young adults aged 18 to 24
represent one third of the market. The act attempts to strike a
balance between keeping marijuana away from minors and cash away from
[continues 629 words]
Doctors who treat youth have serious concerns about the legalization
With universities and schools providing few details around strategies
for marijuana legalization, doctors who treat youth have serious
concerns about the inevitable increase in use and the impending
impacts of what can be a dangerous drug.
Dr. Chris Wilkes, Alberta Health Services head of child and adolescent
psychiatry, said educators "need to ramp it up" in terms of creating
environments to ensure safety and informing youths about the health
effects of marijuana.
[continues 805 words]
VANCOUVER - Vancouver city councillors agreed the city's approach to
harm reduction may appears extreme to those who haven't experienced
the overdose crisis' impacts first-hand.
But Coun. Hector Bremner told StarMetro he thinks those skeptical of
harm reduction simply haven't had an opportunity to learn how it
"The average person going about their day to day life, worrying about
their family and putting food on their table is not necessarily deeply
involved in these issues," Bremner said. "And so they go with what
they feel, or what they know, or what's the societal norm.
[continues 440 words]
Studies show controlled drug use can reduce consumption of street
As the opioid crisis rages on across North America, a number of recent
studies are pointing to cannabis and prescription heroin as viable
options in curbing the consumption of lethal street opiates, reducing
long-term medical and policing costs and extending the lives of users.
An analysis of opioid prescriptions in the U.S.published on Monday by
the American Medical Association showed a significant decrease in
opioid prescriptions in states that have adopted some sort of cannabis
legislation. Using data from 2010 to 2015, the analysis counted 3.7
million fewer daily doses of opioids prescribed in states that allow
weed dispensaries, while states that allow only home cultivation saw a
decrease of 1.8 million daily prescribed doses.
[continues 715 words]
News release that called for study to make personal use legal called
Things started off on a pretty collegial tone Tuesday morning in
Vancouver city council.
Much of the morning session was concerned with development plans for
an 8.4-hectare site in south Vancouver. Councillors echoed their
support for the project, and one commented on proceedings going "so
smoothly." The mayor agreed, saying it was nice to conduct the meeting
"without the kind of friction that can sometimes occur."
[continues 768 words]
In 2018 we find ourselves battling an opioid crisis that has been
years in the making. Opioids are drugs that act on the nervous system
to relieve pain and were originally derived from opium but now also
include synthetic preparations.
In the mid-1990s, their use by physicians was heavily promoted by the
pharmaceutical industry, leading to greater prescribing for both acute
and chronic pain. Patients using opioids can develop a dependency or
There are two sources of opioids: those that are produced by the
pharmaceutical industry and those that are illicitly produced.
Recently, the illicit supply has become so contaminated with fentanyl
(a very powerful opioid) or fentanyl-like substances that many people
are at risk of an unintended acute and potentially fatal poisoning.
[continues 541 words]
Last week there were two rallies organized to address the opioid
crisis - one in the city and the other on the Blood Reserve. On Monday
night, I attended the Community in Crisis March that started at City
Hall and ended with a candlelight vigil at Galt Gardens. Several very
touching speeches were given by citizens who have been impacted by the
opioid crisis and are determined to fight back.
Our Mayor and local MLA Maria Fitzpatrick also provided remarks
echoing the sentiment that this crisis sees no boundaries - it does
not discriminate. They also reaffirmed we must continue with harm
reduction efforts and band together as communities.
[continues 631 words]
The life-saving drug may actually increase opioid abuse. Here's
My friendly local pharmacy has started selling naloxone kits to the
general public. They think everyone should have one. The idea is that
you never know when you're going to have someone overdose in your home.
As the opioid crisis spreads like a curse across North America,
naloxone - a lifesaving drug that neutralizes the effects of an opioid
overdose - is not confined to first responders anymore. Schools in
Toronto are stocking up in it. Librarians across the United States
have been trained to administer it to overdosing visitors. Everywhere,
the message is: make sure you have some on hand, just in case.
[continues 667 words]
More supervised injection sites planned as opioid-overdose numbers
The construction trailer that houses the illegal, volunteer-run
overdose prevention site in Toronto's Moss Park is about to open for
another evening, as a dozen drug users, some clearly anxious for their
fix, cluster around its muddy entrance in the cold.
Activist and harm-reduction worker Zoe Dodd, named one of Toronto Life
magazine's most influential people last year, alongside Foreign
Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and R&B star the Weeknd, unloads an
extra box of anti-overdose naloxone kits from her beat-up sedan.
[continues 934 words]
City's fatality rate is now nearly double Ontario average, fuelling
Opioid-related deaths in Hamilton have soared more than 80 per cent in
From January to October, 75 Hamilton residents died from an opioid
overdose in 2017 compared to 41 during the same period the year before.
"Opioids are continuing to have a devastating impact on individuals,
families, and the community," Hamilton's medical officer of health Dr.
Elizabeth Richardson said in a statement Friday. "The sustained trend
of rising opioid related deaths, which are preventable, in Hamilton is
[continues 437 words]
WATERLOO REGION - Waterloo Region plans to look further into pursuing
three supervised injection sites, following a study that found a need
and support in the community for the service to combat fatal opioid
Sites are proposed for the central cores of Kitchener and Galt, and a
third spot to be determined that could be a mobile unit.
"In Waterloo Region, we know that overdose is on the rise," said Grace
Bermingham, regional manager of information, planning and harm reduction.
Bermingham presented findings from the first phase of a feasibility
study on supervised injection sites to a regional committee on
Tuesday. The second phase involves identifying potential locations and
further consultations with people who live, work or go to school near
a proposed site.
[continues 654 words]
The significant spike in illicit drug overdoses in Lethbridge has not
reached Medicine Hat - yet.
There is no way to predict that it will or when, said Insp. Tim
McGough, Medicine Hat Police Service.
Lethbridge recently experienced its largest spike in overdoses - 16
cases - ever recorded in a 24-hour period. There were 42 overdose
calls to first responders in the week after Feb. 19.
"We've had no specific overdose spike (in Medicine Hat) but we are
always concerned with illicit usage." said McGough.
[continues 349 words]
Nearly three weeks in, London's temporary overdose-prevention site -
the first of its kind in the province - has gone from four drug users
a day to 44, and front-line workers are beaming.
The stripped-down supervised consumption facility opened Feb. 12, a
quick, co-ordinated response to the growing number of opioid overdoses
among London drug users. As of Tuesday, staff were seeing as many as
44 clients a day.
"Clients are having trouble believing it. It's too good to be true,"
said Sonja Burke, needle exchange director at the Regional HIV/AIDS
[continues 325 words]
This week marks a historic first for the City of Lethbridge. The
Supervised Consumption Site (SCS) will open its doors and will be the
first of its kind in North America to offer all four modes of
consumption - ingestion/oral, injection, intra-nasal/snorting and
inhalation. Despite this milestone, it's fair to say the facility has
been met with mixed reviews, including people who have come to me to
"blame" the police service for letting it happen. This not only
demonstrates a narrow view of Canada and our Charter of Rights and
Freedoms, but a failure to understand the role of the police in
social-political decisions that are driven by municipal , provincial
and federal officials and the mandate they support.
[continues 905 words]
St. Catharines council is unanimously supporting the creation of a
temporary supervised injection site in the city to help deal with the
"It is pure harm reduction. It is stopping people from dying," said
Sandi Tantardini of Niagara Area Moms Ending Stigma, speaking in
support of the site at Monday night's council meeting.
Tantardini and Jennifer Johnston founded the group of moms, families
and friends of people who have been lost to or are struggling with
"When we're talking about the effects of the opioid crisis, our group
and its representatives and our families, we're the faces of it," said
Johnston, whose son Jonathan, a chef who trained at Niagara College,
died of a fentanyl overdose in Toronto.
[continues 328 words]
Re: Opioid vending machines won't help B.C.'s addicts. Jeremy Devine,
Feb. 14 This piece, written by my classmate, Jeremy Devine, contains
misinformation and stigma. I felt compelled to write a response because
his views do not reflect mine or those of many of our fellow medical
school classmates at the University of Toronto.
The article suggests that British Columbia's harm reduction approach
is some ill-conceived mistake that jeopardizes the lives of people who
use drugs. In fact, Mr. Devine's ideological stance is not based on
evidence, and if enacted, could endanger countless lives.
[continues 208 words]
Liberal MP says he wasn't thrilled about it at first, but changed his
Cannabis was on the menu at the Belleville & District Chamber of
Commerce's monthly breakfast Wednesday at the Travelodge Hotel, and
Bay of Quinte MP Neil Ellis was pushing it - from a business point of
With Bill C- 45, the Cannabis Act, expected to be law by July 1, Ellis
said the business of marijuana will provide many opportunities, not
just from production of both recreational and medical cannabis, but
from the many sideline businesses it will create.
[continues 855 words]
Protesters carrying signs saying "Injustice is fatal!" laid dozens of
white carnations next to a coffin on the steps of Montreal City Hall
Tuesday, each representing a life lost to a drugoverdose.
A coalition of community groups, crisis workers, activists and drug
users held a demonstration demanding the government repeal drug laws
that marginalize drug users.
They also held a moment of silence - joining several vigils held
simultaneously across Canada. The opioid crisis claimed nearly 3,000
lives in 2016, and the estimated death toll last year is pegged at
[continues 426 words]
Harm reduction is more than a job for Karen Kittilsen Levine. Reducing
the numbers of people dying from opioid addiction and blood-borne
disease is something she's determined to do.
"We began doing outreach in Pictou County on November 1 and have more
than 40 clients, and we're beginning outreach in Amherst within a few
days," said Kittilsen Levine, who is the harm reduction coordinator
for the Northern Healthy Connections Society.
The organization collects used needles and distributes clean ones. It
also provides condoms and information on blood-borne diseases.
[continues 226 words]
Every morning, Kevin Thompson takes a short stroll from his apartment
to the Crosstown Clinic, where he signs in, gets his prescription
medicine, then sits in a small room and injects it before heading off
He follows this routine up to three times a day and has done so
virtually every day for more than a dozen years.
The medicine is diacetylmorphine, the medical term for prescription
"It saved my life. No question, it saved my life," Mr. Thompson, 47,
[continues 683 words]
With toxic street drugs such as fentanyl killing four British
Columbians a day, much of the response has focused on overdose
treatments with naloxone, and supervised injection sites. Yet
public-health staff have concluded that emergency interventions such
as these will not stop the epidemic. If the supply of these drugs
cannot be halted - and no war on drugs has ever been won - the only
option is to prevent the downward slide that leads to street-drug addiction.
Many of the victims are middle-age men and women who have fought a
lifelong struggle against such challenges as alcoholism, mental
illness, the lasting effects of childhood abuse and more.
[continues 513 words]
Demonstrators demand change to federal drug policies
Around 200 drug users and advocates took to Vancouver's streets
Tuesday, demanding changes to the federal government's drug policies.
In a national day of action, co-ordinated with cities across Canada,
demonstrators from the Canadian Association of People who Use Drugs
(CAPUD), the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users (VANDU) and other
groups marched through Vancouver's Downtown Eastside from Victory
Square to the B.C. courts building at Hornby and Smithe St.
[continues 470 words]
Rally in response to the opioid crisis hears tales of loss and 'burnt
Kim Pare said his family did everything they could to help their
bright and beautiful daughter, but in the end she couldn't fight the
illness of addiction.
It's been almost four years since Kaitlyn died, at 24, from a
prescription opioid overdose and from her father's perspective nothing
has really changed.
"We are losing a generation of people who could be valuable members of
our society. We have to help them,' Pare said, speaking to about 30
people at a rally at King and York Sts. Tuesday's event was part of a
National Day of Action in response to the opioid and contaminated drug
[continues 607 words]
Earlier this month, front-line health workers in Toronto raised the
possibility that part of the city's cocaine supply may be tainted with
fentanyl, after a handful of drug overdoses were connected to users
unknowingly consuming the deadly opioid while smoking crack.
This dismal scenario is common in Canada. Across the country, illicit
drugs are being cut with the synthetic painkiller - which is up to 50
times more potent than heroin - because it is cheap and powerful and
saves dealers money. During a month-long period in the summer of 2016,
86 per cent of the street drugs tested at Vancouver's supervised
injection sitewere laced with fentanyl.
[continues 628 words]
The AIDS Network is putting itself forward to run Hamilton's first
supervised injectionsite at its downtown Effort Square location.
The AIDS service organization is preparing proposals to the provincial
and federal governments for a permanent site where people can inject
illegal drugs under the watchful eye of trained staff without fear of
Meanwhile, it is also proposing a smaller temporary overdose
prevention site as a stopgap that would allow supervised injection
until the permanent location was approved and operating.
[continues 417 words]
Decriminalization is the right move , say James Hutt and Emilie
Canada's overdose crisis is getting worse, not better. In 2016, there
were 2,861 opioid-related deaths. Last year, there were more than 4,000.
All of them were preventable.
As the NDP gathers in Ottawa this weekend for its national policy
convention, many hope that this issue will be front and centre. NDP
leader Jagmeet Singh has already indicated that he favours the
decriminalization of all drugs - not because it's the popular but
because it's the right thing to do.
[continues 551 words]