The Death of Raffi Balian

The Death of Raffi Balian

There was the death of a harm reductionworker. T​he man was Raffi Balian who died, recently. T​here was the Drug Users’ Memorial on Friday February 16th at the South Riverdale Community Health Center or SRCHC.

Many spoke about the impact of this harm reduction worker and lifelong advocate for those who are users and even misusers of drugs. Balian was one of the founders and the coordinator of the SRCHC award-winning COUNTERfit harm reduction program.

Recently, it had expanded to include a safe-injection service called KeepSIX. Unfortunately, at the age of 60, Balian died on attending a national about supervised consumption. The day of death was February 16th.

There were about 50 people who mourned the death in the Leslieville centre. There were songs, prayers, a smudge ceremony, as well as the reminiscences of the good times. Carol Lee who is the person who runs the SRCHC Drug Users’ Memorial Project talked about the “ruthless war on drugs.”

Lee read a few lines that Balian wrote in May of 2012 as well. A well-known harm reduction worker in Toronto who co-founded the Moss Park overdose prevention site name is Zoe Dodd talked about the untimely death of Balian as well as the loss of others that she knew and cared for.

Often, there is a focus on the people who misuse drugs, overdose, and even die without appropriate trained care and naloxone present. However, there are the long-term advocates and workers.

Here we are dealing with the death of a highly valued member on the other side, someone who impacted the lives of the users that worked to improve their own livelihood, even hoping to save some lives.

Unfortunately, those who are helping those who misuse substance can die in the midst of their own advocacy at work as well. “Today we are remembering people who have been lost to us. … people who have been prematurely robbed of their lives,” said Lynne Raskin, SRCHC’s executive director. 

References

Lavoie, J. (2014, February 21). Harm reduction worker remembered at Leslieville memorial. Retrieved from https://www.toronto.com/news-story/8145017-harm-reduction-worker-remembered-at-leslieville-memorial/.

Scott Jacobsen

Scott Jacobsen

Member-at-large

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: Scott.D.Jacobsen@Gmail.com.

Psychedelic Career Day: March 3, 2018

Psychedelic Career Day: March 3, 2018

Psychedelic Career Day is hosted by the Toronto Psychedelic Society on March 3, 2018 via Zoomm in a webinar. There will, in addition to the Zoom webinar, be a live event hosted at the University of Toronto.

The Keynote address will be by Dr. Ben Sessa. After the keynote address by Dr. Sessa, the Psychedelic Career Day will be hosted by Daniel Greig from Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy. The panel will include individuals including Rita Kočárová, David Wilder, Dr. Anne Wagner, Trevor Millar, and Alison McMahon.

Many people interested in psychedelia can go by the title “psychonauts.” One reason for this event is to discuss and present the experiences of those who have gone into the world and build a life for themselves in areas less well-trodden. How do you build an academic or professional career in the realm of psychedelia?

Psychdelic Career Day is one effort to bridge that gap and define some paths forward, especially in the university research system for work and investigation in-depth into psychedelics.

You can find more information out about the event here:

Events

Good wishes and see you there!

Scott Jacobsen

Scott Jacobsen

Member-at-large

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: Scott.D.Jacobsen@Gmail.com.

David Wilder Interview on Psychedelic Career Day

David Wilder Interview on Psychedelic Career Day

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: How did you become interested in the discipline of psychedelia?

David Wilder: I was actually pretty opposed to all drug use when I grew up and it wasn’t until I got to college and began experimenting with drinking alcohol that I loosened up enough to try cannabis a few times. It didn’t have much effect on me the first few times (probably because I wasn’t actually inhaling properly), and eventually the people I was hanging out with bought some salvia divinorum to try. Without any knowledge of what I was getting into, I joined them one time while they were smoking the extract and ended up having an extremely intense out-of-body experience where I was looking down on myself from above. That experience threw me for quite a loop and gave me a lot to think about. Later that summer I traveled to Europe and purchased some psilocybin mushrooms from a smart shop in Amsterdam. I ate them and had a life-changing transformative trip which showed me quite a few things that I needed to work on. When I got back to America, I became somewhat obsessed with learning as much as I could about psychedelics, reading lots of books, watching tons of videos, and listening to podcasts about psychedelics. It’s been over ten years since that summer back in college and I’m still consuming a lot of psychedelic content to learn as much as I can.

Jacobsen: What is the purpose and content of Psychedelic Career Day?

Wilder: This event is designed to facilitate a conversation about how people can create a career related to psychedelics. I’m a freelance writer that spends a significant amount of time writing about psychedelics, and the rest of the panel consists of psychedelic researchers, an event organizer, an entrepreneur, and a ibogaine facilitator. I’m very interested in what these panelists have to say about their own careers, and hope that as a group we are able to give some inspiration to people out there who are wondering what type of psychedelic career they can create.

Jacobsen: You have a wide range of interests including “music, reading and writing, plant-based diets, fitness, meditation and yoga, psychoactive drugs, gardening, alternative economics and self-development.” How does Think Wilder provide an outlet these?

Wilder: My blog Think Wilder is a place where I can write about my interests in an effort to spread information to others. I have a weekly “This Week in Psychedelics” column where I link to a wide variety of psychedelic-related articles that show up each week in the news. Some of these articles focus on the risks that can come from taking psychedelics, while others delve into their benefits. The column is intended to catalogue how psychedelics are presented by the mass media, which includes everything from the latest scientific research to misinformation. I also write a weekly “Weekend Thoughts” column, which briefly talks about some of the things that have happened in the previous week. That column tends to focus a lot on news about technology, which is another topic I’m very interested in. In addition to those two weekly columns, I have published a few “how to” articles about various meditation techniques and several book reviews that cover the topics that you mentioned. Ultimately, my blog is a place for me to work on my writing ability and express the things that I’m thinking about to the wider world.

Jacobsen: What will be your own contribution to the panel?

Wilder: I will be speaking for 5-10 minutes about my personal background and history with psychedelics before diving into some of the tips and tricks that I wrote about in my “Continuing Further Education with Psychedelics” article that is published on Psychedelic Times and then talking about a few psychedelic careers that are options for people who want to create a psychedelic career. Although I don’t have the same wealth of professional experiences with psychedelics that the other panelists have, I’m hoping that talking about my story as a freelance writer will help upcoming psychedelic content creators to think about how they can carve out their own careers.

Jacobsen: How do you hope to help the younger generations explore the world of psychedelia?

Wilder: My hope is that we see a lot of different types of careers bloom out of the psychedelic community. One potential path that younger people can take is to study psychedelics in college and become psychedelic researchers or trained therapists that can help people integrate their psychedelic experiences. In addition, some people may want to get involved with drug policy work, while others could become content creators and help expand the conversation about psychedelics even further. It’s an exciting time to be involved, because although there are a ton of options available to pursue.

Jacobsen: Any final thoughts or feelings in conclusion?

Wilder: I think that about sums it up for me. Thank you for taking the time to speak with me today, and I am looking forward to participating in the webinar!

Scott Jacobsen

Scott Jacobsen

Member-at-large

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: Scott.D.Jacobsen@Gmail.com.

Interview with Daniel Greig of CSSDP on Psychedelic Career Day

Interview with Daniel Greig of CSSDP on Psychedelic Career Day

Image Credit: Daniel Greig.

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: Psychedelic Career Day, what is the event? Why is it important for those interested in entering the career of the discipline of psychedelia?

Daniel Greig: The career day is a panel of a bunch of people who are working within the field of psychedelic research and, more broadly, they research with substances traditionally considered either recreational or not useful given the history of drug laws.

So, we do have one panelist focusing on cannabis. But the majority are focused on doing the research or writing about the research in the Psychedelic Rennaissance. It is the reintroduction of psychedelics into research settings.

There will be many jobs opening up in relation to this field of study. It has been rocky trying to do this research over the last 40 or 50 years because of the strict legal restrictions on utilizing a lot of these compounds.

Those have been loosened. The general public has moved to from away from being fearful about psychedelic compounds. The benefits are becoming known about for e.g. DMT, Ketamine, and MDMA.

MDMA has been given breakthrough therapy status by the FDA in the United States, a huge change compared to the approach in the 90s where MDMA was demonized as the rave drug.

The common example of that is where you would see: “This is your brain on drugs. These drugs make holes in your brain.” That is the discourse we have been having to put up with for a long time.

Nowadays, there is less of that and more positive information coming out, more objective information coming out. The objective case is these are positive for wellbeing in a number of ways.

A lot of people and students especially are interested in that.  This panel is important for giving people the tools they need to pursue careers in this field within legitimate institutions, within Academia and therapeutic contexts.

This panel is about bringing the information to a bunch of eager and willing people who want to work in this field, making it more possible that they can do that effectively.

Jacobsen: With respect to the panelists who were invited to the one you will be hosting, what will be the things that they will be bringing to that panel in general?

Greig: A lot of these people are new for me to talk to. I am familiar with Ben Sessa’s work. He is a longrunning and published author on the effects of MDMA in psychotherapy. 

He even started the Breaking Convention Conference in the United Kingdom. I am really interested to talk to him and see his experience in the field and the things he has been able to get up to in this fairly restricted field up until this point.

David Wilder, he is a blogger. So, a bit more of a casual perspective on what sorts of jobs are available in the field because there are plenty of people interested in psychedelics as a philosophical starting point.

He explores psychedelics, spirituality, technology, and self-development.  He does a lot of educational events related to his writing work. That is also an interesting avenue for people to be engaging in this research. What are the implications of psychedelics more generally for our technological society?

Also, Anne Wagner, I am familiar with her work. She is a great speaker and has an excellent perspective on this.

She works out of Ryerson University. She is working on research work with MDMA and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. She is more of an institutional figure, someone with a research and medical background. This is what a lot of people are going to be looking for when having careers of this kind.

Then we also have Trevor Millar who is an entrepreneur. He does his own Ibogaine facilitation as far as I understand. He makes that available to people. It will be interesting to get that perspective as well because there are people looking for legal ways to integrate people into having psychedelic healing, which isn’t quite on the table right now for the widespread population – in typical legal avenues.

We have a little bit of everything here. A good diversity of focus on different areas, different subsets, of psychedelic research. The Ibogaine experience is different from the MDMA experience is different from the cannabis experience.

As a result, there are a lot of different pathways for people to work with those compounds in different ways. We have a good array of voices to look forward to.

Jacobsen: For those with an interest in following through on not necessarily attendance at Psychedelic Career Day, though that will be a valuable venue for them to gather some information as well as meet some of the personalities, what other resources can facilitate their own self-exploration into the psychedelic world?

Greig: I would start with recommending with getting on the mailing list for all of the research institutions that are working on this stuff. You have MAPS Canada. If you give a donation, you will receive information on their research and events they are affiliated with.

That is a good way to keep in the loop. There is also The Beckley Foundation. You can keep up with them for updates on their research and events. they often collaborate with the organization MAPS as well.

They were both major contributors to the Psychedelic Science Conference that happens regularly in California. On top of keeping up to date with these research bodies, it is also important to stay in the know and connected to the community around you.

Whether that means attending conferences in your area that are related to psychedelics, in Toronto, there is more of that happening. I host the Mapping the Mind with Mushrooms Conference every September. It happens at the University of Toronto.

There was a recent one called From Microdosing to Mystical Experiences hosted by the Toronto Psychedelic Society. Those things are a great way to keep in the loop. I know there are similar events in Vancouver because MAPS Canada has their headquarters in Vancouver.

It is a fruitful ground for a lot of educational events and community integration events. If you do not have access to those things, there are more psychedelic societies popping up.

One started in Hamilton, Ontario and another in Toronto, recently. One of the reason this career panel is so widespread and available across the globe is because of the interactive network of psychedelic societies. 

Getting involved with that is a good way of linking into the network and fostering ideas about psychedelics, self-exploration in regards to that, and the network is the most important thing, I think.

If you want to do the work in this field, you have to know the people; it is a great way to facilitate the efficacy of the psychedelic movement.

If you are a student at a university and want to be working in this, it is good to be open to the potential professors and supervisors in your area. One of the best resources you have, if you want to be working for psychedelics, is yourself. You as an individual can help bring psychedelic compounds back into the institution by being forward about the backing that we have from empirical research, proposing an independent study or research projects that you can be collaborating on with your supervisors or professors. 
That will ultimately be the most helpful thing. It is taking those steps to make things happen.

Jacobsen: The end. Thank you for the opportunity and your time, Daniel.

 

Scott Jacobsen

Scott Jacobsen

Member-at-large

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: Scott.D.Jacobsen@Gmail.com.

Interview with Trevor Millar – Founder, Liberty Root Therapy Ltd.

Interview with Trevor Millar – Founder, Liberty Root Therapy Ltd.

Image Credit: Vancourier.

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: What was the basis for the invitation to the panel for Psychedelic Career Day? What are you hoping to bring to it in general terms?
 
Trevor Millar: I was a speaker at the Psychedelic Psychotherapy Forum held in October a couple of years ago in Victoria. That is where I met Bradley Foster who invited me to be a part of the upcoming Career Day. My company is called Liberty Root Therapy Ltd. (www.libertyroot.net) We have been operating it for the last 4 years providing the psychedelic plant medicine Ibogaine to those who feel called to it and qualify.
We work mostly with opioid addicts, as it is a powerful addiction interrupter. Since last May, I have not been doing much hands on work as there have been some regulatory changes in Canada. I have been focused on the big picture on how we can make this medicine available to more people.
To what I give to this panel, I have the unique experience of actually running a business in Canada giving psychedelics to people, legally, with Health Canada knowing about it. I bring a unique perspective having operated a company that has given psychedelic therapy to more than 200 people.
 
Jacobsen: How does Ibogaine work to be an addiction interrupter?
 
Millar: The backstory is that it comes from the Iboga shrub. It has been used ceremonially for centuries in Africa in the Bwiti tradition. They claim the pygmies gave it to them. It is used ‘in the jungle’ for healing on many levels as well as initiation into adulthood and the tribe in general.
In 1962, a heroin addict in New York City by the name of Howard Lotsof had a chemist buddy who knew that he would try anything. He asked him to try Ibogaine, and he did.  This sent him on a long psychedelic trip, it can be as long as 36-hours, but when he came out the other end he realized he hadn’t wanted heroin the whole time he’d been on it, nor did he want it anymore.  That is when its anti-addictive properties were discovered.
He became a champion for the medicine and got the right people to pay attention to some degree. He founded the Global Ibogaine Therapy Alliance and established some standards of care. I was recently the Executive Director of that organization.  (www.ibogainealliance.org)
It seems to scrub the opiate receptors and bring people to an opiate naive state. We treat mostly opioid addicts; it helps to interrupt any negative pattern a person wants to overcome including most drugs.
But it works especially well for opioids. It helps people get off the drug without the pain of withdrawal, which can drag out for months and months. We bring clients in for 10 days.
We have a doctor working with us to prescribe morphine. a short-acting opioid, so they would be on that for the first day or so to stabilize.
Then we tend to low dose with Ibogaine for one or two days. The way that works is somebody wakes up in the morning, has a bit of withdrawal, and then we give them a small dose of Ibogaine and the withdrawals are taken away for 4-6 hours.
When the withdrawals come back, we put them back on morphine. Because the Ibogaine has done some of its work, we only need to go in with about half as much of the opioid. We do that for a couple of days and ween them off the opiate as much as possible before the next day, which is when we bring in a registered nurse and do the ‘flood dose’ of Ibogaine.
This is the full 36-hour long experience. As I said, we bring in a registered nurse. Ibogaine is potentially deadly. There is a big screening process prior to bringing any clients come in, including an ECG to check their heart as well as blood work.
During that 36-hour long experience, it is, as far as I as a non-patient is concerned, a person lying on a bed. But the first 8-12 hours a person will go through something that’s been called an oneiric experience, or “as related to dreams.”

As with many psychedelic psychotherapies, you may relive past traumatic events, but see it from a different context so some forgiveness may happen there. It is hard to describe the experience adequately.

The first 6-12 hours contains most of the ‘bells and whistles’, then the following 24 provides a lot of time to reflect. Eventually they’ll get some sleep and if we need to do it, we can give some booster medicine if there are any other withdrawals.
For the most part, after the flood, they are physically free of opiates. Generally, the cravings have disappeared. Withdrawal from opiates is normally dire pain for anywhere from a couple days to a couple months with some of post-acute symptoms often extending six months or more.  With Ibogaine most of this is addressed in a few days. It’s such a gift.
It is amazing to see. People still to have decisions to make out the other end of the treatment, so it is not a 100% success rate overall. We see long-term in the unscientific studies that we have done out of Liberty Root a 60-65% success rate treating these addicts.
It blows regular addiction statistics out of the water. That number correlates with the general consensus around the success of Ibogaine. Some of the more scientific studies done tend to show around a 50% success rate on average.
Jacobsen: How might this apply to the opioid epidemic ongoing in the country at the moment?
 
Millar: It is a really great solution!
Jacobsen: [Laughing].
 
Millar: The way Ibogaine has been classified for the last 4 or 5 years when I was working with it. It was classified as a natural health product within Canada. That meant that it was regulated to a certain degree, but wasn’t regulated to the point where a person would be breaking a law by using it.
In May, it was put on the prescription drug list. I think it is where it should be because it is potentially dangerous. A natural health product should not be potentially dangerous. It is good that it was put on the prescription drug list.
But in order to be available, it needs to get a drug identifier number. To get that drug identifier number, you need to have the stage 1, 2, 3 clinical trials in order for Health Canada to say, “This is how the drug should be used.”
It is currently in a regulatory Twilight Zone. My aim is to move it beyond that Twilight Zone. But it would be huge in piece in trying to fix this opioid crisis. It is definitely not for everybody. The way I started to use this medicine was to look for ways to help the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver.
It was a passion project that I started in 2001, and in 2009 Ibogaine came on the radar as a potential solution. The right synchronicities happened to have the right doors open. I was able to put together a great team for this.
Our philosophy was we will take paying customers and then use some profits take people from the Downtown Eastside and help them. We helped a good few people out of that neighborhood.
The people we’ve helped from that hood are doing great from what I know; I am in touch with a couple of them. One has a job and an apartment. He told me that he has $5,000 that he wants to invest in something [Laughing]. To go from being homeless on the Downtown Eastside, staying in a shelter; going through this process, getting on his feet enough that now he’s asking me about how to invest $5K in cryptocurrencies. It’s pretty amazing.  [Laughing].
Ibogaine is not for everybody. I work with people on the Downtown Eastside for months before I give them medicine. You do not want to pluck somebody out, give them Ibogaine, then drop them back in.  That will not work. But it can be a big piece of the puzzle in fixing this opioid crisis with the proper pre-care and aftercare. It deserves some attention. That’s my goal.
Scott Jacobsen

Scott Jacobsen

Member-at-large

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: Scott.D.Jacobsen@Gmail.com.

Interview with Alison McMahon – Founder & CEO, Cannabis at Work

Interview with Alison McMahon – Founder & CEO, Cannabis at Work

Image Credit: Business of Cannabis.

 

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: You are going to be presenting at the Psychedelic Career Day on a panel. What will be your angle of presentation? What will you be bringing to the panel?
 
Alison McMahon: The panel is talking about how the various panelists got into their careers. In my case, it is focused on cannabis and cannabis legalization. I will be sharing my journey of how I got into this sector.
 
Jacobsen: With regards to the field of psychedelia, some of the conversations around Psychedelic Career Day is that the university system does not necessarily see the psychedelic field as a legitimate discipline or field of study. Why do you consider psychedelia a legitimate field of study?
 
McMahon: I will talk from the cannabis background, which crosses over and is relevant. To be frank, I am not an expert in the psychedelic field. I was asked to participate in the panel and I find it very interesting. I am happy to share my background as a much as possible.
 
When we look at cannabis, given the scheduling of cannabis as a schedule 1 drug in the US and a schedule 2 drug in Canada, it has lead to a lot of limitations in terms of studying cannabis for medical purposes. 
 
We are starting to see some movement and some change now. But what that means, is we are behind when it comes to the science of cannabis and being able to speak to its medical benefits and medical efficacy. 

With some of the psychedelic drugs, it is a similar situation; there have been li

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mitations on studying them for medical purposes. So, that limits the amount of knowledge that we have on the medical benefits or the medical potential and the amount of application that we have seen of those substances for medical or therapeutic reasons.

 
Jacobsen:  Taking on step away from the particular panel, as well as Psychedelic Carrer Day, though associated with it, you found Cannabis at Work. What inspired you to found it? In other words, where did you see a need that you could found an organization that could fulfill that need?
 
McMahon: I was a human resources specialist and an entrepreneur prior to this work. I was involved in human resources. I helped employers with a variety of human resources topics. In 2015, in the Summer, I started to see and hear more about cannabis in the news.
It started along with what was happening in the US at the state level. It was pre-Trudeau, but, he was running and marijuana was part of his platform. It was a time when cannabis started to hit my radar more.
I realized that it was, on the one hand, one big opportunity for drug reform. I realized that there is a really big challenge for employers, especially, in the sectors that have employees that may have been prescribed cannabis medically, but the employer is really uneducated about the complexities between strains with THC or CBD in them – and how that affects impairment or not.
I realized there was a gap in knowledge. That there was something they were grappling with. It was helping employers gain knowledge and also update their own drug and alcohol policies while maintaining workplace safety and being respectful of human rights for individuals who are using cannabis for medical purposes.
Due to our participation in the cannabis sector in Canada, around Cannabis at Work, in the Spring of last year with the legalization of marijuana announcement, that is when we launched our staffing division. That makes us Canada’s only staffing agency focusing exclusively on the regulated cannabis sector in Canada.
 
Jacobsen: Often, with psychedelics and non-psychedelics, there are myths in the public mind. You mentioned some. What are one or two of those bigger myths that float around? What are the empirical truths that dispel them?
 
McMahon: I think that the biggest myth or point of fear for employers is using medical cannabis is that the employee will be high all of the time and be a huge safety or productivity risk in the workplace. Employers and the general public do not understand some of the nuances of medical cannabis.
Somebody, if they are taking it in the evening and they do not work until 12 or more hours later the next day, they may not be impaired, but they may be able to continue doing their job. There may not need to be any formal accommodation of that.
I think that is probably the biggest challenge, which is the lack of nuance in knowledge about cannabis. Everyone views cannabis as an impairment causing substance. But people can be using these strains with very little THC in them.
Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time, Alison.

 

Scott Jacobsen

Scott Jacobsen

Member-at-large

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: Scott.D.Jacobsen@Gmail.com.

Re: B.C gives up on its addicts and decides to just keep them on drugs

Re: B.C gives up on its addicts and decides to just keep them on drugs

The recent op-ed by Jeremy Devine is a reminder of how much work still needs to be done within the medical community to advance the principles of public health and understandings of patient-centered care. BC is not “giving up on its addicts”; it is taking steps to address the immediate harms of drug use for individuals who may not be ready, able, or willing to access treatment. This approach respects the rights of people who use drugs to seek the treatment that will work best for them when they are ready, and enables individuals most affected by the opioid crisis to be included in policy decision process that impact them.  

Calling addiction an “individual pathology” ignores the complex interplay of structural, social, and physical environments that shape drug-related health outcomes. Devine’s recommendation that all funds be re-routed towards “a blitz” of Anchor Recovery programs demonstrates just how little research he has undertaken to understand the relative effectiveness of harm reduction and abstinence-based treatment models on a population level, and reveals a probable lack of experience working with communities most affected by the opioid crisis. There is no magic bullet to the opioid crisis; while Anchor Recovery-type programs may work for some, they certainly won’t work for many, and there is no reason these programs can’t exist alongside harm reduction and other treatment approaches.

People who use drugs are not just those who live on the streets or in prison — they are also our friends, neighbours, and family members. Their valuable knowledge about programs and policies that affect them should serve as a reminder to step out from the Ivory Tower.

Jenna Valleriani

Jenna Valleriani

Advisor

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.

Stephanie Lake

Stephanie Lake

Stephanie is a doctoral student in population and public health at the University of British Columbia, where she is currently undertaking research to better understand the links between cannabis, opioids, and drug-related morbidity.
Read more.

First Nations Conference in Vancouver, BC

First Nations Conference in Vancouver, BC

T​he first First Nations mental health and wellness conference will be taking place in Vancouver, British Columbia. Mental health and substance abuse are major issues for the First Nations Community within Canada.

Elders, educators, well as community leaders and care providers amount to​hundreds of people

​will ​meet in Vancouver to discuss these issues in a formal conference setting. The difficulties can be focused on children as well provincial care.

The n​umber of suicides from opioid overdoses in First ​Nations communities are far​higher than the rest of the general BC ​population. Some note that things we see with things like suicides and deaths are symptoms of things such as century of assimilation policies and racism.

Grand Chief Doug Kelly, chair of the First Nations Health Council, said, “I’m full of good feelings and I’m full of hope because there’s 600 leaders and caregivers that want to make a difference… We’re dealing with some very difficult things.”  ​

The conversations will focus on pragmatic concerns, i.e., ​the tangible solutions to deal with mental health issues including those ​that could lead to a suicide or coping with opioids that are ​actually laced with fentanyl leading to an overdose death.

Mark Matthew, the manager of Engagement and coordination health authority,

​considers this a praiseworthy conference. H​e said,​ “It’s important that we talk about these difficult things because if we don’t start talking about them, how can the healing really start?”

References

Bellrichards, C. (2018, February 8). First of its kind First Nations mental health and wellness conference takes place in Vancouver. Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/news/indigenous/first-nations-mental-health-wellness-conference-1.4525865.

Scott Jacobsen

Scott Jacobsen

Member-at-large

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: Scott.D.Jacobsen@Gmail.com.

Karmik is Here to Help with Nightlife

Karmik is Here to Help with Nightlife

British Columbia harm reduction organizations are hoping to improve the safety of nightlife in Victoria, ​ British Columbia. Organizations such as Karmik. ​ The new chapter will be ​in Victoria, ​British Columbia.

T​here will be provisions of drug checking services, e​education and t​raining in order to reduce the stigma of drug use in order to ​help with the prevention of o​verbose deaths, as well as help with the peer support at the events.

​Given the severity of the fentanyl crisis throughout 2017, ​ and arguably earlier, the organization is important for the improvement of the safety standards in the nightlife scene. Young people want to have fun in a responsible and safe manner.

​U​unfortunately, ​ these substances ​can be laced with things like Fentanyl. But organizations run by decent people such as those at Karmik are providing a way for safer nightlife.

​If you want to help out with the organization, you can look into the website in order to look into various ways of contributing to the organization and in a way to the community of nightlife substitute is looking for a safe, responsible, and mutually respectful environment to enjoy a good party. ​

References

Dimoff, A. (2018, February 4). B.C. harm reduction organization hopes to improve nightlife safety in Victoria. Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/karmik-harm-reduction-victoria-1.4518129.​

Scott Jacobsen

Scott Jacobsen

Member-at-large

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: Scott.D.Jacobsen@Gmail.com.