The Sensible Cannabis Education Toolkit

The Sensible Cannabis Education Toolkit

In September of last year Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy organized a youth roundtable discussion on cannabis legalization in order to gain insights from youth on aspects of legalization that would affect them directly: age restrictions, criminalization, preventative education, and distribution. Attended by 25 diverse youth, and a member of the Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation, CSSDP produced a final report which highlighted ten main recommendations to emerge from our discussions.


The 2016 Roundtable Results

CSSDP was happy to see some of our recommendations adapted in the Cannabis Act introduced by the federal government. For example, at our roundtable, youth really emphasized the idea that age restrictions should be as low as possible, but not exceeding the age of access for alcohol. This recommendation was made based on the over-criminalization of youth, particularly minority youth, for cannabis related charges.

Many youth felt that an area severely lacking was access to realistic and evidence based cannabis education. The roundtable highlighted how overwhelmed youth feel in an ‘internet age’ where they have access to a plethora of (not always reliable and often competing) information.


Our Cannabis Education Project

Our resulting education project aims to help educators and parents have more effective dialogue with kids that will develop their cannabis and health literacy.

CSSDP hopes to provide a starting point on cannabis education, and we are bringing in diverse youth to help us create, review and edit the final product. Starting with real and honest dialogue based in evidence and harm reduction, CSSDP hopes to gather more input from young people around the country on how to create a comprehensive strategy for cannabis education.

To accomplish this, we need YOUR help. Learn more.


The Toolkit

We hope the Cannabis Education Toolkit will support the development of new cannabis resources, and help educators and parents approach meaningful discussions with their kids about responsible use.

The toolkit is divided into two major sections: the first looks at ten evidence-based recommendations to approaching cannabis education with young people, and the second section presents a pull-away cannabis curriculum which covers Cannabis 101, reasons for use and non-use, current evidence around common youth cannabis claims, such as brain development and mental health, as well as harm reduction.

Canada has some of the highest rates of youth who use cannabis, and it’s time to talk about why people use cannabis, the common health claims around youth cannabis use, factors that lead to misuse, impaired driving, and why cannabis is a social justice issue, among other things, in a non-judgemental and inclusive manner.

And we need youth to be at the heart of this discussion. Interested? Here’s how to get involved.

Photo by Climate KIC on Unsplash.


Heather D'Alessio

Heather D'Alessio

Chapter Liaison

An Algonquin College business student focused on entrepreneurship and innovation, Heather is fascinated by corporate social responsibility within the cannabis industry, with a passion for the relationship between food, health, and sustainability, and is an advocate for drug policy based on human rights and
public health.
Learn more about Heather.

Upcoming Cannabis Education Roundtables

Upcoming Cannabis Education Roundtables

CSSDP is looking for chapters and volunteers to host a 2 hour Youth Roundtable to workshop our Cannabis Education Toolkit in December and early January.


Roundtable Facilitation Training

CSSDP is working with the Youth Wellness Network to develop:

  1. a facilitation guide which will cover the entire cannabis education roundtable for chapters to recreate on their own campus
  2. a training session for our facilitators on how to effectively lead the discussion.

The training will be a 1.5 hour session which will be video recorded for  chapters outside of Toronto.

Since this initiative is funded by an unrestricted grant from Canopy Growth, CSSDP is offering chapters a stipend to organize and carry out these feedback roundtables.


Chapter Roundtable Funding

Each chosen chapter will receive up to $500 for their event (with $100 allocated to each lead facilitator (up to two), and up to $300 for food and rentals). The sessions will be about 2 hours, will be audio recorded, and can be anywhere from 5 to 15 people. The roundtable should include only young people – but this can be chapter members and/or local youth and students.

The facilitation stipends for our leaders will cover:

  1. Participation in the training session
  2. Roundtable event coordination
  3. Facilitation at the event
  4. A 500 word summary of main themes and feedback received from the event

While we will analyze the recordings in full, we’d also like to hear feedback on the document directly from our members, and we will take this feedback and integrate it into the final document.


Getting Involved

For more information on the training sessions or to express interest in hosting a roundtable, do not hesitate to reach out to our personnel liaison Nick at, or the coordinator of this initiative, Jenna Valleriani, directly at

Jenna Valleriani

Jenna Valleriani


A doctoral candidate in Sociology and the Collaborative Addiction Studies at the University of Toronto, Jenna was on the CSSDP board of directors from November 2013, acted as Conference Chair for CSSDP's 2015 conference, was CSSDP representative on the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition steering committee, and volunteers with NORML Canada. Find out more.

CCSA Hosts 7th Harm Reduction Conference

CCSA Hosts 7th Harm Reduction Conference

One of the largest harm reduction conferences is being held, recently. It was in Calgary, Alberta. This is the seventh conference devoted to issues and concerns around substance use and addiction. It is being hosted by the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA).

It is bringing numerous prominent individuals within the relevant fields together for the conference. This included “addiction workers, healthcare professionals, researchers, policymakers, knowledge brokers, and those with lived and living experience from across the country to address the harms of substance use and addiction.”

The main topic area or the thematic orientation of the conference was “Addiction Matters.” It is a three-day conference. The conference is sold out as well. It will have an attendance of 480 people. The presentations and workshops will look at prescription drugs as well as the opioid crisis involving fentanyl.

The Federal Minister of Health Ginette Taylor and the Alberta Associate Minister of Health Brandy Payne will be coming to the conference for 2017. They will be giving short speeches on the first day. The conference is actually parallelling national addictions awareness week, which price to enlighten about substance use an addiction. That is, the stigma surrounding them.

Executive Director of the CCSA, Rita Notarandrea, said, “Addiction and problematic substance use touches us all…This conference brings together representatives of a fragmented, but passionate system of services and supports dedicated to helping the six million Canadians — our mothers and sisters, fathers and brothers, neighbours and friends — touched by this health disorder.”


Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction. (2017, November 13). Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction Hosts Canada’s Largest National Conference on Prevention, Harm Reduction, Treatment and Recovery. Retrieved from

Scott Jacobsen

Scott Jacobsen


Scott Douglas Jacobsen researches and presents independent panels, papers, and posters, and with varied research labs and groups, and part-time in landscaping (lifting, mowing, and raking) and gardening (digging, planting, and weeding). He founded In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal and In-Sight Publishing. He is a Tobis Fellow (2016) at the University of California, Irvine’s (UCI) Interdisciplinary Center for the Scientific Study of Ethics and Morality (Ethics Center). He researches in the Learning Analytics Research Group, works as the Gordon Neighbourhood House Community Journalist/Blogger, researches and writes for the Marijuana Party of Canada, and is a contributor for The Voice Magazine. UCI Ethics Center awarded him with the distinction of Francisco Ayala Scholar (2014) for mentoring, presenting, researching, and writing. If you want to contact Scott, you may inquire or comment through e-mail:

Homeless, in Winnipeg, and Indigenous Populations, in Canada, at Higher Risk of Substance Associated Deaths

By Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Harm reduction is an important part of the prevention of deaths associated with drug use, overuse or abuse. In Winnipeg, the vulnerable are the main victims of the opioid crisis. Throughout the country, the most vulnerable are the main victims.
The homeless and the indigenous population within Canada are the typical individuals who you will see dying daily. Various nonprofits, according to Elisha Dacey, are in a panic and rush to be able to cope and deal with the deaths associated with opioid overdoses sourced in substances laced with fentanyl.
The homeless in Winnipeg are the main subjects of death. They need housing. Local advocates for the homeless say this. But they aren’t getting it. So, the homeless are the ones dying daily, as per usual.
Various business owners in West Broadway are frustrated about a homeless camp that sprung up in Winnipeg. The business owners see this area of Winnipeg as profitable, and the homeless as a nuisance to the potential for profit because it is a lucrative area for the business owners.
There can be bike thefts and petty crime in the area. This has been a concern for the Winnipeg Police Service as well as the mayor of Winnipeg too. Many have been saying that the drug use and abuse issues have been getting worse over time.
When it comes to looking for housing solutions for the homeless population, there is tremendous resistance to it. Much of the discussion is looking for ways to have the various public and private businesses and organizations come together within the communities of Manitoba, in particular, to be able to solve the increasing problem of homelessness as well as overdoses associated highly with the homeless population.
In Canada as a whole, a large portion of the homeless population is also indigenous. This is also a major concern. In fact, for me, it is a tremendous concern. Not only in the presence of historical crimes, but also in immediate experience and sympathy for the broken communities and hearts now.
As noted by others, this is the time of reconciliation, so most hope. Indigenous youth who take drugs in British Columbia, for example, will be 13 times more likely to die than any other same age group.
This means both women and men are at a much higher risk of death due to overdose and drug use than every other population, the non-aboriginal population. Many are trying to break the cycle.
But it is a hard struggle. Not only because of their ongoing deaths, but also the ease of access to drugs can be an issue too. Many want to get over the abuse and trauma from the past. However, many do not have appropriate public services.


Bellrichard, C. (2012, November 6). Indigenous youth who use drugs in B.C. dying at an alarming rate, study finds. Retrieved from
Dacey, E. (2017, November 12). ‘Survival economy’: Winnipeg’s homeless struggling amid opioid crisis, lack of housing, say advocates. Retrieved from

Fentanyl Positive Sample Tests Increase 2,000%

By Scott Douglas Jacobsen

There has been a surprising increase in the number of positive tests for fentanyl in samples of heroin, which have been seized by the law enforcement agencies throughout the country. It was less than 1% in 2012, moving to about 60% or more in 2017.

In other words, there has been a two thousand percent increase in the percentage. For all street drug samples, it is not a small sample size. The samples tested are about 120,000 in number. Health Canada has not provided an in-depth breakdown of the details for every type of drug test.

However, they have noted that heroin is a particular area of concern.

Of the 2337 heroin samples tested by the drug analysis service of Health Canada, less than 1% had fentanyl or any of its analogs, such as Carfentanil.

That grew to 39.4% out of 3658 samples. In only the first nine months of 2017, of the samples tested, totaling 3,337, the total testing positive for Fentanyl has “jumped” to 60.1%.

It is a substantial increase in the percentage of fentanyl that is part of the samples tested. Other common drugs tested by the service are marijuana, cocaine, oxycodone, MDMA, and many others. It was not found in any marijuana samples, but there have been increases found, of Fentanyl, in cocaine and methamphetamine.

This rapid increase in fentanyl contained within street drugs is a marked concern for the general public as well as Health Canada. Dr. David Juurlink, the head of clinical pharmacology and toxicology at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto, found that this was not shocking for him.

This is, simply according to Juurlink, a mirror of the opioid crisis overdose deaths. They are paralleling the increase of positive fentanyl drug test samples. In 2016 alone, Health Canada reports that 2,816 people died from opioid-related causes.

Juurlink says that some of the factors associated with the rapid increase of fentanyl use is due to a general over-prescription of opioids for the reduction of pain. Money is being made by preying on people who need help. This is the opinion of Juurlink.


Miller, A. (2017, November 9). EXCLUSIVE 2,000% rise in street drug samples testing positive for fentanyl. Retrieved from

Scott Douglas Jacobsen founded In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal.

Abuse of Opioids Does Not Discriminate

By Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Jesse Stein from The Link wrote about the hard lessons from overdoses (Stein, 2017). Amélie Goyette, who has worked at CACTUS for 13 years (a harm reduction service), described the learned lesson.

The lesson that overdoses inflict themselves upon all sectors of society from the homeless to high-ranking professional people.

CACTUS is organized in Montreal. Some issues with overdoses and drug use in Canada are the spread of HIV and Hepatitis C. For example, CACTUS states that 68% of substance users, who intake the substances via injection, have Hepatitis C.

Harm reduction organizations such as CACTUS offer clean needles and are for safe injection, including appropriate support too,

One of the offers from CACTUS from 2010 was the introduction of “Messagers de rue” devoted to hiring people with financial problems in order to provide clean needles as well as clean the areas with substance users.


Saint Laurent metro is the new place for the services. As per usual, it is an area for substance users to inject in a clean context with trained personnel to assist with, for example, the administration of “naloxone in the case of an overdose” (Ibid.).

Two other harm reduction sites have been opened in Montreal in June, 2017.

Naloxone is an important part of harm reduction services because this provides the possibility for reversal of an overdose, which, effectively, saves lives, saves substance users, and abusers, from the potential of immediate death.

“In her experience, Goyette sees that people often begin with prescription opiates like oxycodone,” Stein said, “before moving on to harder drugs like heroin, since doctors prescribe opiates less than they used to. Goyette says that in general, once a person starts injecting heroin, they never go back to pills.”

Fentanyl has been the main killer, recently, as it is a synthetic opioid. Fentanyl is 10,000 times more potent than morphine (Ibid.).

In addition to trained personnel, experiential background is an important factor too, as CACTUS hires “peer workers” who are those that have prior experience with heroin abuse.

One barrier in communication and prevention of overdoses is the stigma surrounding drugs in Canada. CACTUS is working to reduce the stigma to more effectively combat the crisis, ongoing.


Stein, J. (2017, November 7). Community Group CACTUS Strives for Harm-Reduction With Newly-Opened Safe Injection Site. Retrieved from

Scott Douglas Jacobsen founded In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal.

New Device to be Piloted in British Columbia

By Scott Douglas Jacobsen

In the midst of the opioid crisis in British Columbia, and arguably across Canada, Vancouver is testing a first-of-its-kind drug examination device.

The drug testing device may help in the reduction of opioid associated overdoses and deaths.

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson and the British Columbia Addictions Minister Judy Darcy made an announcement about the machine.

This pilot for the device will be through Insite and Powell Street Gateway. It is called the Fourier-Transform Infrared Spectrometer (FTIR).

The new device has the ability to have individual submit anonymous samples of street substances in order to be tested for potential opioid content.

You can also test for stimulants, MDMA, and other drugs. These substances can be today found within minutes. Also, all supervised injection sites within British Columbia will now have Fentanyl test strips, according to Darcy.

She said, “Tackling this overdose crisis takes a whole province … it will take an entire province to turn this around.”

In the province, so far, more than 1,100 people have died based on illicit substance use overdoses.

In September alone, there have been 80 suspected elicit overdose deaths, which is up more than 30% from September in 2016.

Also, the ministry is beginning to ramp up the campaign to reduce stigma. More than nine out of 10 people who are dying from overdoses are using substances while at home, alone.


CBC News. (2017, November 10). Drug testing machine to be piloted in Vancouver as overdose crisis continues. Retrieved from

Scott Douglas Jacobsen founded In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal.

Red Zones Block Harm Reduction Service Access

By Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Henry Tran, a Contributor to Simon Fraser University’s The Peak, reported that a new study found the bail conditions on alleged offenders including substance users can prevent overall access in Downtown Eastside Vancouver to harm reduction services (2017).

Professor Nicholas Blomley from Simon Fraser University and a master’s student, William Damon, published the study that said the “red zone” or the “no-go” bail conditions can prevent access to those services.

Based on the reportage from the study, “more than half of the bail conditions for drug offences included a no-go zone, 92 per cent of which were concentrated in the Downtown Eastside.” This is stated, by Tran, to have implications for the well-being and health of substance users in Vancouver.

The red zone blocks access to harm reduction services including overdose prevention and safe injection sites.

The lead researcher in the study, Marie-Eve Sylvestre, said, “Our study reveals that conditions of release are too frequently used in Vancouver in ways that are counterproductive, punitive, and frankly unlawful, threatening fundamental constitutional rights.”

Purported drug use offenders can be susceptible to recidivism, so they can go back into the criminal justice system. “Between 2005 and 2012, 97 per cent of all bail orders in Vancouver included conditions of release,” Tran stated, “which contradicts the Criminal Code requirement of unconditional release, the study outlined.”

The current system, with bail, would violate the right of the individual and others including their security, according to Blomley.

The Government of British Columbia has no address these problems within the criminal justice system.


Tran, H. (2017, November 8). Study finds bail ‘no-go’ zones block access to harm-reduction services. Retrieved from

Scott Douglas Jacobsen founded In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal.

The Public Have Concerns About Discarded Needles

By Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Harm reduction continues to grow throughout Canada. With this, there is the provision of Naloxone kits, harm reduction trailers and sites, as well as clean needles for injection drug users. But there have been some reactions from the public on the government to clean up problems with drug use waste, especially intravenous drug user waste such as needles and syringes. There are discarded syringes, which some see as posing a health risk to the general public.

There have been volunteers in parks. They have been tasked with cleaning up various paraphernalia of drugs. Some suggest needle exchange programs are part of the problem with the waste. However, the experts and the public health workers such as social workers and nurses, and researchers, on the ground state that those programs are in fact part of the solution.

There have been rubber gloves and garbage bags put out by volunteers in Ontario and New Brunswick. Some citizens have been taking pictures of needles in some of their local areas and posting them on social media, for public commentary and complaint.

Vancouver Coast Health, as a public agency, is providing needle exchange is as well as safe injection sites for drug users who inject.

That agency provides healthcare for about 1/4 of the British Colombia population. Even though they have been more needles discarded, there has been a “dramatic decline in HIV cases” among the British Colombia drug user population. Those that inject.

Professor Carol Strike from the University of Toronto said, “I’d be concerned if I found a needle in my community, and if I didn’t know a lot about the programs I might make assumptions about where the needle came from and how many there are … the programs that I’ve worked with across the country … don’t want needles in the community either. That’s why they exist, not only to give out needles, but to dispose of them properly,”
This is part of an ongoing public conversation.


Goffin, P. (2017, November 7). Residents raise concerns about discarded needles, public health workers say harm reduction programs part of solution. Retrieved from

Harm Reduction Trailer Approved for Murray Street

By Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Health Canada approved the supervised injection site in Ottawa, recently. CBC News reported that the trailer was approved for the Shepherd’s of Hope in Byward Market (Trinh, 2017).

This nearly another unsupervised injection site at Raphael Brunet Park. The Government of Canada published a press release on the importance of harm reduction measures such as supervised injection sites.

Volunteers in Ottawa have said that this supervised injection site is in the centre of the opioid crisis in Ottawa.

The trailer is open 24/7 and stocked with clean needles and naloxone kits. At the moment, the trailer is used for the injections but in the future could be used for drugs users who smoke their substance.

The federal government in a press release said, ‘Supervised consumption sites are an important harm reduction measure and part of the Government of Canada’s comprehensive, collaborative, compassionate and evidence-based approach to drug policy,”

There are a total of eight injection stalls within the trailer for clean drug use by users. The press release continued, “International and Canadian evidence shows that, when properly established and maintained, supervised consumption sites save lives and improve health without increasing drug use or crime in the surrounding area.”

The harm reduction trailer is at the corner of Murray Street and King Edward Avenue.  There were 10 overdoses within 24 hours in Ottawa in this part of the city.

The Inner City Health of Ottawa is the government arm responsible and equipped for the “training and hiring the nurses and social workers who will staff the injection trailer.”

For governmental permission for illicit substances with the trailer, the executive director for the group, Wendy Muckle, said, “We had to show what measures we would take to prevent the trafficking of illicit drugs inside the trailer … and how we would make sure clients were safe and secure and staff were safe and secure.” It is a 24/7 trailer.

Inside of the trailer, there have been 50 nurses and social workers hired and trained in the possibility of an overdose, as well the trailer has clean needles and naloxone kits on site.


Trinh, J. (2017, November 6). Health Canada approves supervised injection trailer at Ottawa shelter. Retrieved from

Harm Reduction Tent No Longer Usable in Moss Park

By Scott Douglas Jacobsen

A, technically, illegal overdose prevention site in the Moss Park of Toronto halted use of a its heated medical tent (Giovannetti, 2017). The heated medical tent was provided by the provincial government, or the Government of Ontario, but the officials on behalf of the government said that there should be no open flames inside of the harm reduction structure.

The Minister of Health and Long Term Care, Eric Hoskin, for Ontario said, last week, that there will be an increase in the provision of resources for dealing with the opioid crisis through the installation of a “military-style tent” (Ibid.).

With windy and cold weather, the warmed harm reduction structure was a refuge for activists and drug users alike. But the commander of the Emergency Medical Assistance Team, or EMAT, of Ontario sent a message to the activists in Moss Park that no flames should be used in the tent. Even though, drugs need heat to be consumed.

The lead organizer of the Toronto Harm Reduction Alliance, Zoe Dodd, said the medical tent had to be abandoned. Now, the activists and users are based to using old tents without insulation.

Dodd said, “I don’t know if they just don’t understand how drugs are prepared. You have to heat up a drug to break down bacteria and the drug itself. I just don’t understand how this happened.”

Hoskin’s office said that oxygen tanks are stored in the tanks in order to assist with resuscitation if needed at any time, but there is a risk with the possibilities of an open flame.

Laura Gallant, who is a spokesperson for the office of Hoskin, said, that there has a lack of communication between activists and the government since the opening of the site in August.

Gallant said the government is looking to provide industrial grade appliances such as hot plates, which would be safe for a tent. But Dodd rejected the proposal because “people do not use got plates to heat up their drugs.”

Dodd’s volunteers, to date, have apparently reversed 85 overdoses and monitored 2,000 injections.

In the nearly three months the site has been operating, volunteers have reversed 85 overdoses and monitored almost 2,000 injections.

More in the reference.


Giovannetti, J. (2017, November 5). Open-flame ban forces Toronto drug-use site to abandon heated medical tent. Retrieved from

Overdoses in Abbotsford

By Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Canadian citizens have been losing family members, friends, colleagues, and fellow Canadians to the ongoing opioid crisis (CBC Radio, 2017).

A guest on As It Happens, Jolene Greyeyes, said that she has lost over 100 friends due to the crisis (CBC Radio, 2017). Greyeyes is a former addict and harm reduction worker. She may have lost more more with five more people dying in Abbotsford, British Columbia (Schmunk, 2017). All within the span of nine hours.

Greyeyes said, “And if I don’t, I know other people that most likely will know them…It’s just a never-ending cycle.” Of the five victims to the crisis in Abbotsford, there were two women and three men.

“It’s another five families impacted by this crisis happening in our city,” Greyeyes said. They ranged in age from 40 to 67; each dying alone. Police are working to find out if the contribution to the deaths was from carfentanil or fentanyl.

The toxicological tests have yet to come back. Between the first and the eighth month of 2017, 1,013 Canadian citizens died from illicit drug overdoses in British Columbia alone, which is according to the British Columbia Coroners Service (CBC News, 2017). It is 91 more deaths than in 2016.

Greyeyes spoke to the need for further education on overdose signs as well as naloxone training. “They have to know the signs of an overdose and they have to have naloxone training and naloxone kits on hand and [know] not to use alone.” she said, “Nobody’s safe out there anymore.”

“We need to really educate the public, even if they don’t think that addiction is something they need to know about, because it’s happening in communities right across British Columbia and it’s not just isolated to people who are homeless or living on the streets. It’s people from all walks of life who are being impacted.”

She iterated that she, personally, would never give up on someone that struggles with an addiction in her own community because she was an addict and knows the pain that these people go through, especially hose losing a loved one.


CBC News. (2017, October 12). B.C. overdose deaths now surpass 2016 total, coroner says. Retrieved from

CBC Radio. (2017, October 30). After 5 overdose deaths in 9 hours, B.C. harm-reduction worker says ‘nobody’s safe’. Retrieved from

Schmunk, R. (2017, October 28). 5 people die of overdoses in Abbotsford within 9 hours on Friday. Retrieved from