JUSTICE Minister Heather Stefanson looked out her legislature building
window Thursday with dismay at how many young people were on the lawn
"It does disturb me how many young people were out there today,"
Stefanson told reporters.
She didn't go outside and she kept her window closed, Stefanson said
with a smile.
But Stefanson was all seriousness when she reiterated her fears that
federal legislation shows no signs of educating young people about the
dangers of marijuana, especially of driving after using pot.
[continues 173 words]
I have to admit, I felt less than enthusiastic a few weeks ago when I
heard the Canadian government was going to follow through on its
promise to legalize cannabis.
We knew this was an election promise the Liberals were destined to
keep. And yet, I did not share the enthusiasm of the activists blowing
smoke on camera as the dates for introducing the legislation and the
July 2018 implementation were announced. I am pretty much a law and
order kind of citizen. My exposure to cannabis has mainly been limited
to the times when I encountered teens smoking in parks, behind high
schools or occasionally in high school washrooms. My only addiction,
at least what I am willing to admit publicly, is dark roast coffee.
[continues 726 words]
Questions around planned pot legalization still in the air as police
prepare for 4/20 events
Edmonton's police chief says he doesn't expect a larger-than-usual
4/20 gathering Thursday as the city prepares for legal marijuana.
"I imagine we'll get a few people there, but nothing that's really on
the radar we're concerned about," Chief Rod Knecht said Wednesday.
The annual smoke-up at the Alberta legislature could be one of the
last under existing marijuana laws, as the Trudeau government prepares
to legalize the drug.
[continues 344 words]
There's very little middle ground in the debate about safe injection
Lines are quickly drawn between the supporters and the
I suspect that you could do a bit of political polling during a
discussion about "supervised consumption sites" and the lines dividing
the participant camps would likely reveal a left-right political split
Conservatives tend to be anti-drug, anti-safe injection
Liberals tend to flow to the other side, largely supporting supervised
[continues 565 words]
Legalizing pot is trickier than it looks, and the Prime Minister might
soon be wondering if the hassle is worth the price
Justin Trudeau's vow to legalize marijuana - made without much
thinking, one suspects - was one of his signature campaign promises.
It was intended to brand his party as progressive, youthful and
enlightened. And the time seemed right. Most Canadians agree that it's
time to make it legal.
But when the government unveiled its long-awaited legislation - on the
eve of a long weekend - our hip Prime Minister was nowhere in sight.
He left the job to a bunch of hatchet-faced ministers, who grimly
assured us that this was going to be all about law and order and harm
reduction, not fun. Clearly, the government hoped that everyone would
get distracted by the holiday and move on.
[continues 641 words]
And just like that, the Trudeau government has started the clock on
the creation of a multi-billion-dollar marijuana industry in Canada,
one as big as the beer industry. By the end of next year, pot will be
just another lifestyle choice for Canadians, like deciding on a
restaurant for dinner or which smartphone best expresses your special
uniqueness. One day, you may end up knowing someone who works as a
quality inspector on a joint-rolling assembly line.
It's a monumental move, and the fact that we knew it was coming
doesn't lessen its impact now that it's here. Where the United States
is moving state-by-state on this contentious issue, Prime Minister
Justin Trudeau and his cabinet are legalizing an iconic and popular
narcotic in one fell swoop on a national basis. It is a generational
[continues 738 words]
Medical marijuana may assist in keeping addicts off dangerous
The patients at Dr. Mark Ujjainwalla's methadone clinic are trying to
beat their addiction to heroin, narcotic painkillers and other opioid
drugs, but most of them still smoke pot.
He estimates that 90 per cent of his patients at the Recovery Ottawa
clinic on Montreal Road already use marijuana, and he's begun writing
prescriptions so they can buy it legally.
Medical marijuana, used appropriately, can reduce insomnia, anxiety
and cravings for opioids, says Ujjainwalla. Marijuana cannot replace
methadone or suboxone, the drugs he uses to treat addicts, he says.
[continues 1146 words]
Health officer says situation is worsening despite bold initiatives,
partly due to rise in carfentanil in B.C.
It's been a year since provincial health officer Dr. Perry Kendall
declared the spike in overdose deaths a public health emergency.
But despite major efforts and resources, there is no end in
"I had hoped for a different outcome," Kendall said. "Tragically, in
that 12-month period, we have seen an additional 919 deaths."
A total of 922 people died from illicit drug-related overdoses in B.C.
last year, compared with 513 in 2015 and 366 in 2014. This year could
be even worse: In January and February alone, 219 people died.
[continues 859 words]
A tag hanging from a dead man's left toe says the cause of death was
an overdose of fentanyl, "unknowingly taken with other drugs."
The cadaver draped in a white sheet is displayed in transit ads funded
by the Vancouver Police Foundation and represents 922 people who died
in British Columbia from drug overdoses last year alone.
A spiralling number of deaths, often involving the painkiller
fentanyl, prompted the provincial government to declare a public
health emergency on April 14, 2016, and to launch its own awareness
campaign on TV, radio, Facebook, transit and at bars and
[continues 704 words]
Calgary's police chief is backing calls for a local site where drug
users could consume substances under medical supervision. Roger
Chaffin said preliminary discussions are underway about what a
supervised consumption site in the city will look like. He added that
police will work to ensure that community members feel safe.
Dr. Thomas Kerr is the co-director of the Addiction and Urban Health
Research Initiative at the British Columbia Centre for Excellence in
HIV/AIDS and the principal investigator of several large cohort
studies involving people who inject drugs and people living with
HIV/AIDS. He spoke to Postmedia about community concerns when
supervised injection facility Insite was established in Vancouver's
Downtown Eastside in 2003.
[continues 625 words]
Maybe it was the ski masks that did it.
Or it could have been the steely look in the eyes of Lake County,
Fla., Sheriff Peyton Grinnell as he deadpanned: "We are coming for
Perhaps it was the muted background music: an eerie melody that
wouldn't have been out of place in a Batman movie.
In the end, what could have been an unremarkable public service
announcement about opioid abuse in Lake County spread widely on the
internet, garnering about a million views on the Facebook page of the
sheriff's office, where it was first posted Friday. It sparked
concerns about police militarization and drew more than a few
comparisons to Islamic State recruitment videos.
[continues 915 words]
Knowing the signs of an overdose can save someone's life, especially
with inconspicuous opioids like Fentanyl lurking in common street
drugs. It begins with high-like symptoms - euphoria, relaxation and
drowsiness, and cedes to shortened breath, a slowed heart rate and
unconsciousness. The effects of Fentanyl set in quickly. The trouble
is, anyone can fall prey because the opioid often goes undetected
until it's too late.
Fentanyl is laced into illicit street drugs to enhance their effect.
Originally a pain medication used as an anaesthetic, it's 50 to 100
times stronger than Morphine. Because it's so potent, the drug comes
in small doses, often concealed in silica gel sachets discreetly
marked that can't be seized at the Canadian border.
[continues 1209 words]
The Liberal government is about to introduce legislation to legalize
and regulate marijuana. What's the best way to do that? That's what
Ottawa has been puzzling over ever since the Liberals, led by Justin
Trudeau, made their bold promise in the last election campaign.
For answers, look at how Canada has succeeded, and failed, in dealing
with another recreational product both popular and problematic for
public health: tobacco.
In the early 1990s, the federal government had a plan. If it steadily
raised taxes on cigarettes, it could drive down the rate of smoking -
thereby addressing one of Canada's biggest health challenges.
[continues 693 words]
Canada is preparing to legalize and regulate possession of marijuana -
with a target date of July 1, 2018.
It's a long overdue public policy with sound economic and health
arguments to back it up, notably: More harm is caused by criminal
prohibition and prosecution than the use of marijuana itself; Criminal
laws prohibiting possession do not deter use; Decriminalization of
possession does not lead to greater use; Decriminalization frees up
resources for police and the courts to deal with more serious crimes;
[continues 689 words]
Four others in serious condition after ecstasy use at two city dance
Five overdoses near Toronto nightclubs early Saturday, including one
that killed a 24-year-old woman, triggered a health warning and calls
for clubs and authorities to take new steps to save lives.
Police say the overdoses involved the party drug MDMA, also known as
ecstasy. Tests should reveal if the woman also ingested fentanyl, a
toxic anesthetic sometimes mixed into other drugs, or another substance.
The overdoses near Uniun Nightclub, near Adelaide and Portland Sts.,
and Rebel Nightclub at Polson Pier are part of an alarming trend, said
Councillor Joe Cressy, who chairs the city's drugstrategy.
[continues 318 words]
In 2016, 11 regions have gone beyond 15 overdose deaths, medical
Health experts painted a grim picture Wednesday morning as they
updated Vancouver's mayor and council on an ongoing opioid crisis that
has spread from its "epicentre" in the Downtown Eastside to touch
every part of the province.
Provincial health officer Dr. Perry Kendall addressed a sombre
Vancouver council chamber Wednesday, almost a year to the day after he
announced a public health emergency in response to what he called at
the time, "the recent surge of overdoses."
[continues 572 words]
Consumption sites should be up to provinces: Medical chief
Not enough is being done to speed up critical decisions that can save
lives a year into British Columbia's overdose crisis, according to
Vancouver Coastal Health's chief medical health officer.
Dr. Patricia Daly and provincial health officer Dr. Perry Kendall were
at Vancouver city hall Wednesday to brief council on the progress to
date since Kendall first declared a public health emergency on April
Last year, 922 people died in the province of illicit drug overdoses -
three times the number of people who died in motor vehicle accidents.
[continues 344 words]
In the midst of the fentanyl crisis, a local organization that
provides overdose training and harm reduction is bracing for the loss
of a major chunk of its funding.
ANKORS (AIDS Network Kootenay Outreach and Support Society) was
founded in 1992 at the height of the HIV/AIDS crisis and provides
services around HIV and Hepatitis C, harm reduction and prevention
education. Originally established in Castlegar, the organization now
has offices in Cranbrook and Nelson, and between the two may soon lose
five employees and a significant part of its funding.
[continues 1529 words]
More drug users accessing care, says chief medical health officer
Drug overdose deaths remain high, but Interior Health is reaching more
drug users and saving more lives through its overdose prevention
services, says chief medical health officer Dr. Trevor Corneil.
In February, there were 15 overdose deaths across the Interior Health
region, down from 18 in January and 29 in December. On Tuesday,
Corneil provided an update on the local drug overdose response to the
IH board of directors, focusing on the success of overdose prevention
[continues 275 words]
MP Davies says Liberal budget is a fifth of what Tories proposed
The New Democratic Party's health critic calls the amount of money
devoted to fighting the ongoing overdose crisis in the federal budget
Don Davies, MP for Vancouver Kingsway, says the $110 million set aside
for the Canadian Drugs and Substance Strategy over five years is a
fifth of the $556 million proposed by the former Conservative
government in its last budget.
The reduced spending comes at a time when many provinces are
struggling to contain an ongoing overdose death crisis.
[continues 490 words]