Sensible Cannabis Toolkit

Sensible Cannabis Toolkit

We are excited to share our newest resource, “Sensible Cannabis Education: A Toolkit for Educating Youth,” after 8 months of hard work. With legalization around the corner and drug policy crises around the world, it’s important we take smart first steps towards educating youth, starting with the evidence. We’d like to thank Canopy Growth Corporation for supporting this youth cannabis education project through an unrestricted grant to Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy!

 

Sensible approaches to legalization and education

Aligning with CSSDP’s mandate to support drug education efforts and building upon youth consultations on cannabis legalization conducted in Canada, this toolkit responds to calls for the development of realistic and evidence-based cannabis education for youth. Created for educators, as well as parents, this resource aims to support adults in having informed and non-judgmental conversations with young people.

Protecting youth

Given that cannabis remains the most popular illegal drug consumed by young people in Canada, as well as Canada’s pending legalization and regulation of cannabis, the development of new cannabis education for youth is of critical importance, and a key aspect of developing young people’s health literacy. The legalization of cannabis in Canada provides an opportunity to revise our approach to cannabis education for youth and consider pragmatic youth education which is inclusive of both prevention and harm reduction to maximize effectiveness and protect all youth.

Evidence-based education

Generally, the central purposes of drug education are to provide accurate information and awareness of resources, develop decision making skills and health literacy, reduce risks of consumption, and support increasing an individual’s risk competency. However, this toolkit goes beyond these mandates.

 

The Sensible Cannabis Education toolkit

The toolkit is broken into two parts. The first section highlights ten guiding principles for conducting cannabis education with young people. In this section, the concepts and values important to the delivery and implementation of cannabis education for youth are discussed. Although outlined in the context of cannabis, these principles are also applicable to education on other substances. Emerging from our review of the available literature, we offer ten guiding principles for cannabis education:

  • Education grounded in evidence-based information
  • Non-judgmental, open dialogue that uses interactive approaches
  • Meaningful inclusion
  • Delivery by a trained facilitator or peer
  • Starting education earlier with age-appropriate content
  • Supporting parents to have age appropriate and open conversations
  • Inclusion of harm reduction
  • Education tailored to the specific context
  • Ongoing education available to youth
  • Attention to overlapping issues of racism, social justice, and stigma

The second section focuses on content that merits inclusion in a comprehensive cannabis education curriculum for young people, including evidence-based information about cannabis, its use and effects, as well as harm reduction strategies. This is meant to help educators and parents familiarize themselves with cannabis and cannabis use, and can be used as a resource to assist in the information delivery component of a comprehensive cannabis education program. This section also addresses many common claims made about youth cannabis use, such as what the research can tell us about the impacts on the developing brain, the gateway theory, and provides educators with a background on legalization, particularly as it pertains youth, to help ground their approach. We believe this approach can allow for flexibility and provide insights into how youth cannabis education can be operationalized in practice, as well as further refined and improved.

Below, we highlight some key points from our review, in addition to our ten principles for approaching drug education. Happy reading!

The CSSDP Team

Key points around sensible cannabis education:

Legalization

Legal regulation of cannabis offers an opportunity for more pragmatic “cannabis conversations”– the same old approach repackaged will likely miss the mark.

Education

In light of relatively high use rates among youth, we need education within a legalized context which serves youth who don’t use cannabis – but also youth who are already using cannabis. Drug education and cannabis conversations should be inclusive of both prevention and harm reduction in order to maximize effectiveness and protect all youth. “Just say no” might work for some youth, some of the time, but does a disservice to youth who may already be using cannabis.

 

Youth inclusion

It’s critical to involve youth in program design and implementation to ensure key messaging resonates with their experiences – these approaches and programs must be prioritized.

Youth education

While there is no silver bullet approach to talking to youth, access to evidence based drug education is critical for young people, their health literacy and well-being – globally, pragmatic drug education is critical for young people to achieve the highest attainable standard of health.

Harm reduction

It is also important to note some youth will choose to use cannabis no matter what resource or information is provide – cannabis will remain an illegal substance for youth under the age of 18 or 19, but what can change is our approach to educating youth on what will be a legal and regulated substance in Canada.

Key points around harms:

Please see summary chart, p.67 of toolkit and full report (Section 2.5) for references.

Frequency

It’s important to acknowledge harms and risks around cannabis and youth is still developing, but most young people who use cannabis do so infrequently and do not experience significant harms.

Adult use

We need to consider how we can establish norms around “appropriate adult use” of cannabis much like we have with alcohol consumption.

More research

More long term controlled studies are needed to truly assess the impact of cannabis on youth and to make claims around causality, and much of the available literature pertains to samples of youth who are frequent or chronic cannabis use, which is not representative of the majority of youth who use cannabis.

Cognition

Research suggests a relationship exists between early, heavy cannabis use and impairments in cognition, as well as mental health outcomes, but any strong conclusions around causality (i.e. that cannabis was the direct cause of outcome), direction (i.e. which came first? are some youth more inclined to seek out risk behaviours?), and magnitude (i.e. strength of relationship) are not available, mostly due to lack or research.

Confounders

Critical to this conversation is thinking about the role of confounders which are not often accounted for in this discussion. For example, we know social demographics, such as socio-economic status, as well as the use of other substance use (such as alcohol), are critical to this conversation and outcomes (i.e. growing up in a poor neighbourhood or using alcohol also has impacts on brain development in and of themselves which are often not accounted for in this work).

IQ/Intelligence

Preliminary evidence suggests heavy cannabis use during youth may be linked to lower IQ, but there is also additional work to suggest this is reversed after a period of abstinence. Again, the research is unclear around if cannabis is the cause, and there is also evidence that suggests when confounders (such as socio-economic status) are considered, cannabis use is not associated with a decline in IQ or educational attainment.

Schizophrenia

Research has found an association between cannabis use and schizophrenia, but causality, direction, or strength of that relationship is still unclear. It may be the case that early initiation of cannabis use leads to an increased risk of early onset of schizophrenia, especially for those with a preexisting vulnerability and those who use cannabis daily. Third variables (i.e., sociodemographic factors, poly-substance use) make it more difficult to depict a clear picture. It may also be the case that some youth are using cannabis to alleviate symptoms of mental illness or to self-medicate.

The gateway theory

The majority of people who use cannabis do not transition to “harder” illegal drugs. While people who use cannabis (particularly early onset and/or regular users) are more likely to report having used other drugs compared to non-users, there is no evidence to suggest that the use of cannabis causes an increase in the risk of using other drugs. Some have suggested a variety of alternative explanations, such as thrill-seeking behaviours more generally.

Lung Cancer

The evidence of a causal relationship between cannabis and lung cancer remains inconclusive. The evidence is also limited because many relevant studies do not account for simultaneous tobacco use, which has a proven causal relationship to lung cancer. Studies have suggested tobacco and cannabis smoke are not equally carcinogenic.

Key risks

Finally, there is evidence to support that early onset of use and the frequency of use are key risk factors, and associated with the most adverse outcomes, including substance misuse. We believe a preventative approach is appropriate for youth, however, a preventative approach should not be mutually exclusive from offering youth additional tools such as harm reduction education and resources and critical to the protection of all youth.

Sensible Cannabis Education: A Toolkit for Educating Youth

Created for educators, as well as parents, this resource aims to support adults in having informed and non-judgmental conversations with young people about cannabis.

CTV News Reports on Overdose Deaths

CTV News Reports on Overdose Deaths

According to CTV News, the Public Health Agency of Canada has reported on the increased number of opioid-related deaths.

The co-chairs for the Special Advisory Committee on the Epidemic of Opioid Overdoses said, “Unfortunately, the data released today have confirmed our fear that that the crisis has worsened significantly since 2016, despite the efforts from all levels of government and partners to reverse the trend.”

There were more than 4,000 opioid-related “fatalities” in 2017 if counting the country as a whole. Further data and analysis indicate 72% of the more than 4,000 deaths were due to fentanyl. Only 55% of the deaths were accountable to fentanyl in the 2016 statistics.

Important to note: the 2016 statistics were lower in for overall opioid-related deaths too. In the first three quarters of 2017, 92% of the opioid related deaths were accidental.

The statement continued:

We recognize that each death reported in today’s release represents a human life, and we are saddened by these losses… We recognize that all levels of government must do more to increase awareness, implement and evaluate innovative harm reduction approaches and increase access to effective treatment programs in order to turn the tide on this epidemic of opioid-related deaths.

The committee was founded in December of 2016 in order to work on opioid-related deaths and overdoses by the request of the federal, provincial, and territorial governments. Dr. Theresa Tam, Chief Public Health Officer, and Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia Chief Medical Officer, are the co-chairs for the Special Advisory Committee on the Epidemic of Opioid Overdoses.

Males account for 76% of the accidental opioid-related deaths. Those between 30 and 39 are the most at-risk ages. The province of British Columbia has been the hardest hit province of those impacted strongly by the crisis at 1,138 deaths in 2018. Ontario has 942 deaths. Alberta has another 546 deaths.

References

CTVNews.ca Staff. (2018, March 27). ‘The crisis has worsened’: Opioid-related deaths on the rise in Canada. Retrieved from https://www.ctvnews.ca/health/the-crisis-has-worsened-opioid-related-deaths-on-the-rise-in-canada-1.3861121.

Scott Jacobsen

Scott Jacobsen

Member-at-Large/Writer

(Last Update: September 28, 2016)

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 is the Founder of In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal and In-Sight Publishing. 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.

He published in American Enterprise InstituteAnnaborgiaConatus NewsEarth Skin & EdenFresh Start Recovery CentreGordon Neighbourhood HouseHuffington PostIn-Sight: Independent Interview-Based JournalJolly DragonsKwantlen Polytechnic University Psychology DepartmentLa Petite MortLearning Analytics Research GroupLifespan Cognition Psychology LabLost in SamaraMarijuana Party of CanadaMomMandyNoesis: The Journal of the Mega SocietyPiece of MindProduction ModeSynapseTeenFinancialThe PeakThe UbysseyThe Voice MagazineTransformative DialoguesTreasure Box KidsTrusted Clothes.

Update from the 61st Commission on Narcotic Drugs

Update from the 61st Commission on Narcotic Drugs

Written by Ailish Brennan, chapter founder/leader of University College Dublin SSDP

While the inherently frustrating nature of the United Nations and the Commission on Narcotic Drugs has been particularly prevalent throughout my time in Vienna, the inspirational nature of the civil society groups and young people present this week has shone throughout.

Positivity

The work by NGOs and other individual activists has kept me sane and motivated throughout all of these processes.

I had the pleasure of writing this blog post the same day some of the main youth-led NGO groups held their side events. Our own SSDP side-event entitled Youth, Drugs and the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals allowed young people to lead the discussion for once instead of merely having our presence tokenized. The side event discussed why young people need to be meaningfully included in conversations around their health and well-being, specifically in the case of achieving the 2030 SDGs. Panelists Alex Betsos and Nazlee Maghsoudi presented the peer-led cannabis education model being developed by CSSDP, while Penny Hill of SSDP Australia discussed how youth inclusion in drug education makes it more likely several of the SDGs can be met on time. The very personal nature with which Orsi Fehér, chapter leader of SSDP Österreich, spoke was refreshing as she discussed her personal experience using drugs. In a space like the UN, hearing someone “come out” as a drug user can raise quite a few eyebrows. The discussion, co-sponsored by the Government of Canada, enabled civil society groups to speak from a position of genuine experience and discuss the importance of a movement towards a harm reduction model. Stressing the importance of a peer-based education model over the police-delivery model of the DARE program puts value in the voices of young people.

The event by YODA and YouthRISE directly after our event, titled Law Enforcement and Youth, brought a diverse panel of people again sharing their own experiences, from getting arrested as a young drug user in different parts of the world, to the other side of the handcuffs and having to deal with the arrest of your own brother as chief of police. A critical analysis of policies from Portugal to Australia showed that the problem of ineffectively dealing with drug use is present across the globe. Regardless of how the policies are labeled, the prohibitionist nature present in even the Portuguese “decriminalization” model invariably leads to unnecessary suffering.

Youth Voices

The need for the voices of young people has been brought into stark focus this week as we have been constantly reminded of the importance of “protecting youth” from the “scourge of drugs”, without input from people who use these drugs. The UNCND Youth Forum is an event which takes place coinciding with the main Convention and invites young people from member states to join the discussion and compile a statement to be made at the Plenary Sessions. This is a fantastic opportunity for young people to take part in the processes of the UN but it is one which anti-prohibitionist voices have been consistently excluded. Many of the young people I’ve spoken to from NGOs and Civil Society groups have recounted their stories of being denied entry to the discussion based on their views on decriminalization. The token use of youth voices to strengthen the argument against legalization should be condemned and has proven to be another motivating factor for many of the people we talk to in confronting the groups and delegations pushing for a “Drug-Free World.”

They Talk, We Die

A discussion on the frustrating nature of some of the processes at CND by our board member and International Liaison, Alex Betsos.

Back in 2017 the Canadian Association of People Who Use Drugs held a protest of Jane Philpott when she spoke at the Harm Reduction International Conference in Montreal. Canadian activists held up signs that said: “They Talk We Die”. The protest was to note that while Canada has made progress and done some good work in responding to the opioid crisis, any attempt by the government to pat themselves on the back was not only premature but disingenuous. While I appreciated the response from other drug policy reformers that the Canadian government was rather progressive in contrast to other countries, the sharp distinction between Canada and some other countries at the UN puts that discussion into better perspective. The Canadian Government has been pushing for a fairly progressive resolution on stigma*. Some civil society members I have met here have called the resolution on stigma, which notes that stigma can be a barrier for people who use drugs to access services, as a bold resolution*.

What is unfathomable is that while the Canadian government’s resolution on stigma has been stuck in private sessions (known as “informals”), with a lot of arguments from member states, it took less than an hour to schedule several fentanyl analogues, synthetic cannabinoids, and 4-fluoroamphetamine (4-FA) with nothing more than a few words from the World Health Organization. For a group of member states that have fought tooth and nail over the most minute details throughout the CND, not a single member state made comments about making any of these drugs illegal on an international level.

What impact will scheduling fentanyl analogues have on access to fentanyl when fentanyl has been internationally scheduled since the 1990s? From talking to a few people in Canada and also in the Netherlands (both of which have 4-FA scheduled), there is still interest from some people who use drugs in accessing 4-FA. To date, there have been no direct overdoses from 4-FA. Since 4-FA has been scheduled, other New Psychoactive Substances have come onto the market, including 4-fluoromethamphetamine, 2-Fluoramphetamine, and 3-fluoroamphetamine to name a few.

The Commission on Narcotic Drugs reflects the reality that all people who use drugs know to be true. For five days, they talk: they talk to people who use drugs, about them, rarely with them, and while they do, our friends and love one’s continue to die.

Reprinted with permission from Students for Sensible Drug Policy.

Day 1 of CND 2018

Day 1 of CND 2018

Before UNGASS 2016, some organizations and people involved in drug policy believed that the UNGASS document may change the game when it came to international drug policy. If those dreams were dampened somewhat, a fresh coat of water was necessary for CND 2018. Many of the opening I watched contained language such as “the scourge of drugs,” “the world drug problem” and “protecting the youth” (without noting any youth in the discussion). Yet, there were glimmers of hope. Before CND started we were told that there were two main camps at CND, those who support the “drug free world” document of 2009, and those that supported the more progressive UNGASS document. The European Union came out in strong support of the UNGASS 2016 document, and also noted their continued support for ending the death penalty.

“We Can Live With That”

A side event with a name like: “Responding to new methods of synthetic drug trafficking,” clearly provides no angle for drug reform, yet there were some noteworthy points that came out of it. For example, drug sniffing dogs can now find fentanyl packages in the mail. Yet, even with those drug sniffing dogs, fentanyl and fentanyl analogues still manage to get into both the United States and Canada. Other discussions included more international cooperation in advancing the data collection, and cooperation in sharing tactics that people who sell drugs use around the world. The question that follows is, if we cannot stop these drugs that are causing so many deaths, to what degree does limiting a few packages of fentanyl, when 2 or 3 packages of fentanyl out of 10 is still a large quantity. Limiting the supply only encourages drug manufacturers to use stronger synthetic opioids; while other packages of drugs that are larger in size being more likely to be caught and making those drug supplies more dangerous for the consumer as well.

During a discussion on the resolution: “Strengthening efforts to prevent drug use in educational settings,” several delegates described their ability to accept certain amendments to paragraphs with the phrase “we can live with that.” While there are people dying because of the failed war on drugs, when youth are largely not consulted in discussions about them and their educational settings, the phrase “we can live with that” carries an underlying acceptability of things that people around the world may be dying from. The discussion itself was rather slow; there was a distinct gap between countries that focused heavily on the sustainable development goals and human rights and other countries. Who can live with the decisions made at the UN. The resolution focuses on helping youth stay away from drugs, a position most drug reformers would agree with.

Canada’s plenary statement was fairly progressive. They reaffirmed their commitment to legalizing cannabis, as well as explicitly noting harm reduction as an important part of Canada’s drug strategy. What was more disappointing is their commitment to add more drugs to the international Scheduling system. While fentanyl analogues, synthetic cannabinoids and 4-FA are all scheduled in Canada under our analogue act, international restrictions could cause more problems for people who use drugs than they would solve. If anything, Canada’s own system, which relies on scheduling drugs by their pharmacological similarity, proves the failure of these systems. Fentanyl and all of its analogues have been scheduled in Canada since 1996, yet it has been the epicenter of the fentanyl crisis in North America.

Side-event: Saving lives by ending the drug war

Here is a discussion of another side panel by our colleague Sara Velimirovic – Students for Sensible Drug Policy

“We are tired of counting the dead.”

This is one of the conclusions of MC, an activist from the Philippines, in addressing the member states delegates and civil society at the side-event of the CND “Saving lives by ending the drug war,” organized by the Government of the Czech Republic, the Transform Drug Policy Foundation and the International Drug Policy Consortium.

She informed the room that since July to September 2017 police has murdered around 2,000 people in Duterte’s drug war campaign. Even more worrying is the fact of over 16,000 murders currently under investigation that, combined with other cases, amount to more than 20,000 extra-judicial killings to this date in the Philippines. She pointed out several cases of lawyers having been murdered for participating in drug court cases, which leads to a situation where lawyers are ‘thinking twice’ before getting involved in future cases.

Jidrih Voboril, progressive national drug coordinator of the Czech Republic, took the floor to offer information on his country’s policy of liberalization – resulting in prisons that are in fact not crowded which stands out compared to the region -, and harm reduction -resulting in a drop in Hepatitis C cases from 70% to 15% among injecting users. Further, Voboril pointed out all countries of the EU, as well as candidate countries where policy tends to spillover, are moving towards decriminalization in operational sense – if not in legislation.

Ann Fordham declared decriminalization as an important and feasible next first step for Member States, defined as removing criminal (including criminal liability, criminal records and prison time), as well as administrative punishment (including a fine) for using drugs. To date some 27 countries have already instituted some form of decriminalization. She pointed out research shows the deterrent effect has failed to produce results intended by the UN conventions, as we are now aware drug use is independent from drug policy of a given country, but the harm bore by drug users is not.

Brun Gonzales spoke as a drug user about how drugs – that we as a global community have relatively recently banned – have enjoyed so important a role in our societies that ancestors have carved them in stone to relate this wisdom and technologies. This idea of traditional uses of these substances, he points out, has been conceptually removed from what we today call international drug policy. He concluded that the “best way to honour the dead of the drug war is to end it.”

In responding to a question from Olga about how to talk to countries that almost completely unreceptive to changing the policy of a drug-free world, J. Voboril, a longtime diplomat, pointed out that involvement of civil society is very important and can make a difference, that media is a very important way to provide names and faces to the victims of the drug war and for the public to hear their voices, and lastly, policy evidence should be consistently used by advocates who argue for reform.

Alex Betsos

Alex Betsos

Advisor

A sociology and anthropology undergraduate student at Simon Fraser University, Alex was on the board of directors with CSSDP since November 2013, was Co-Chair of CSSDP SFU chapter since September 2013, and his interests in drug policy revolve around how drug policy directly impacts individuals, as well as the larger electronic dance subculture. Find out more.

Vienna Youth Summit: On the Ground

Vienna Youth Summit: On the Ground

Every year in Vienna, 53 member states attend the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND). Government bodies, and civil societies flock to the historical city; it’s notably a time where few serious progressive reforms are made. Other than this past year in 2017, CSSDP has sent students involved on the national board to CND since 2014.

This, however, is a special year. For the first time the Canadian delegation is actively supporting civil society at CND. Over the past months, we, the Canadian delegation has helped to co-sponsor an event with CSSDP, SSDP and SSDP Australia on March 14th. Over the next several days we will be writing blog posts covering CND to help Canadian students understand the process of the UN, its impacts on international law, and what exactly happens every year over these five days. While CND actually starts Monday, March 12, students who interested in drug policy had other events planned for the preceding weekend.

Vienna Youth Summit: Sensible Drug Strategies

This year SSDP’s chapter in Austria held its first (and hopefully annual) event titled: “Vienna Youth Summit: Sensible Drug Strategies.” The workshop was meant to cover various aspects of CND for those who could attend and those who couldn’t. The one-day workshop covered various topics, including youth peer education, information about drug laws in Europe and internationally, the economics of the war on drugs, as well as a panel on youth harm reduction, co-hosted by yours truly, and Ailish Brennan from SSDP Ireland. Throughout the day we had a fairly open discussion, explaining the various drug laws, discussing harm reduction, and getting to know the various youth activists, their projects interests and goals.

Understanding international drug treaties

To understand the importance of CND, it is important to understand what helped to create our current international drug regime. There are three major treaties that have helped to establish our current international drug policy, the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic substances and the 1988 Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances. Jake Agliata from SSDP noted that the first convention, while in part was intended to consolidate previous drug legislation at the international level, was also intended by the United States to be an international form of control. Pre-1961 some UN member states did not have drugs such as opioids regulated. Canada, however, has long been an adherent to various drug laws, as our own federal laws for opium and cocaine have actually existed since 1908. Interestingly, Agliata and his co-presenter Sara Velimirovic that few countries wish to break consensus on the drug treaties, as they are one of the few documents that have strong support from various member states.

The second panel dug deeper into European politics, specifically in relation to Syrbia, and the farcical interplay between international drug governing bodies and local countries. Irena Molnar, explained to us how countries that wish to join the EU will sometimes create governing bodies that actually have limited capabilities in data collection and impact for people who use drugs. What was interesting was how the particularities of the EU bodies that govern drug-related issues became clearer, and the areas in which Canada is actually lagging behind. While Molnar noted that though the European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) has an ‘early-warning system’ in place, the ‘early warning system’ is not particularly early; it can take up to a month for a novel psychoactive substance (research chemical, or NPS) to actually be discussed. In contrast, as far as I am aware, Canada has no such system in place, and our primary method of obtaining data about new drugs on the market is from the police, which may or may not be representative of the actual drug market in Canada.

On the ground and online

There is something fantastic about getting to meet youth activists. Their engagement and passion with ending the war on drugs is always like the first cup of coffee in the morning; that little jolt that pulls one out of their dogmatic slumber. This is not the last event for SSDP’s Vienna Chapter. Tomorrow, they aim to have a rally, with DJs and a drug talk, just another way of showing how students can be involved in so many different projects on the ground-level.

Once CND starts, I will be on the ground at the UN every day. As this is not accessible for all Canadian youth (or Canadians more broadly, as there are a lot of hoops to jump through to even be allowed in), I will be live-tweeting every day at the conference and posting blog articles every second day.

If anyone has specific panels that they would like me to attend you can either contact me by email (alexb@cssdp.org) or on twitter @AlexInNederland.

Alex Betsos

Alex Betsos

Advisor

A sociology and anthropology undergraduate student at Simon Fraser University, Alex was on the board of directors with CSSDP since November 2013, was Co-Chair of CSSDP SFU chapter since September 2013, and his interests in drug policy revolve around how drug policy directly impacts individuals, as well as the larger electronic dance subculture. Find out more.

Jason Kenney Speaks on Harm Reduction

Jason Kenney Speaks on Harm Reduction

Jason Kenney, the Alberta United Conservative Party, made comments in previous weeks about opposition to the supervised injection sites if he became the premier of Alberta. Of course, this is changing more recently.

Alberta is constructing sites for safe, healthy consumption of drugs in order to deal with the deaths linked to opioids. Kenney has expressed direct opposition to harm reduction methodologies including the aforementioned.

Kenney thinks treatment and enforcement would be a better solution because the other methods, which do amount to harm reduction methods, would assist in the spending of money for more consumption of drugs by Canadian citizens in Alberta.

In a Twitter post, Kenney tweeted, “We absolutely need to show compassion for those suffering with addiction, and we need to help them get off drugs. But helping addicts inject poison into their bodies is not a long-term solution.”

Following this, potentially based on the reaction and feedback from some sectors of the public, he said, “I’m not saying I’m opposed to reasonable harm reduction efforts, but I am saying that we need to be realistic about this… We obviously respect the authority of the court in this respect, with one caveat. I would want properly to consult with local communities about the placement of facilities.”

He is noted to have acknowledged that the Supreme Court of Canada ruled “governments have the obligation to license supervised consumption sites.”

One of the UCP leader’s objections was to the density of the consumption sites in Edmonton, where he says that the local business owners and residents should have the right to decide on the sites being established in their local communities or not.

He does disagree on the harm reduction methodologies as the preferred means to solve the opioid crises, especially the deaths, but has taken, recently and in contrast to prior weeks, a light “tone” on consumption sites in particular.

One of Kenney’s preferred methods would be harsher penalties for drug dealers, more associated with the punitive rather than the harm reduction approaches to substance misuse.

“The notion that this is a panacea for the consumption of some of these really toxic opioids is, I think, a bit naïve,” Kenney opined.

Health Canada approved several consumption sites in Calgary, Edmonton, and Lethbridge as well as needs assessments ongoing in Edson, Fort McMurray, Grande Prairie, Medicine Hat, and Red Deer.

“Activists and public health officials have hailed supervised consumption sites as a life-saving, if stopgap, component in the response to the overdose crisis,” Little reported.

References

Bellefontaine, M. (2018, March 8). Kenney to take his seat as UCP leader, as Alberta legislature starts spring session. Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/kenney-seat-ucp-leader-alberta-legislature-spring-sessin-1.4566967.

Bennett, D. (2018, March 2). Alberta government, Opposition clash on ethics of safe drug consumption sites. Retrieved from https://globalnews.ca/news/4059488/alberta-government-safe-consumption-sites-opioids/.

Karim, M. (2018, March 2). Jason Kenney criticized over safe consumption site comments. Retrieved from https://globalnews.ca/news/4059919/jason-kenney-criticized-supervised-consumption-sites/.

Little, S. (2018, March 5). ‘I’m not saying I’m opposed’: Kenney walks back tough talk on supervised consumption sites. Retrieved from https://globalnews.ca/news/4064454/im-not-saying-im-opposed-kenney-walks-back-tough-talk-on-supervised-consumption-sites/.

Scott Jacobsen

Scott Jacobsen

Member-at-Large/Writer

(Last Update: September 28, 2016)

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 is the Founder of In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal and In-Sight Publishing. 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.

He published in American Enterprise InstituteAnnaborgiaConatus NewsEarth Skin & EdenFresh Start Recovery CentreGordon Neighbourhood HouseHuffington PostIn-Sight: Independent Interview-Based JournalJolly DragonsKwantlen Polytechnic University Psychology DepartmentLa Petite MortLearning Analytics Research GroupLifespan Cognition Psychology LabLost in SamaraMarijuana Party of CanadaMomMandyNoesis: The Journal of the Mega SocietyPiece of MindProduction ModeSynapseTeenFinancialThe PeakThe UbysseyThe Voice MagazineTransformative DialoguesTreasure Box KidsTrusted Clothes.

Dr. Anne Wagner on the Psychedelic Career Day Panel and Her Work

Dr. Anne Wagner on the Psychedelic Career Day Panel and Her Work

Image Credit: Anne Wagner/Evidence-Based Therapy, Training & Testing.

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: What was the outcome of the panel for Psychedelic Career Day?

Dr. Anne Wagner: It was an interesting and well-received conversation. Lots of different questions in terms of the folks taking part and attending on diverse ways in which careers can be had in the field.

There was a lot of interest on clinical applications within the field, e.g. becoming a clinical psychotherapist in the field. We were there for 3.5 hours. We had a presentation by Dr. Ben Sessa and then answered folks’ questions.

Jacobsen: With respect to your own presentation, what were some of the questions asked of you in particular?

Wagner: Unfortunately [Laughing], I did not take notes, so this will be a bit harder to answer. Folks were asking me about the training to be a psychedelic researcher, the opportunities available regarding the research, the trajectory to becoming involved in this area, and so on.

I talked about how I am a PTSD development researcher. As a clinical psychologist, primarily, we were invited – my mentor and I – to develop this protocol that combined Cognitive Behavioural Conjoint Therapy with MDMA to see if that would yield helpful results.

The idea being that I did not seek this out but landed in this area. I was very clear that if this area is of interest, develop a skill-set that will support the work that you want to do in this area, therapist training or training in some other area that might be helpful, e.g., lots of lawyers work in this area or other folks with different skill-sets like project management.

I gave an overview of my trajectory.

Jacobsen: When it comes to some of the MDMA research in a clinical setting, what are some of the more cutting-edge aspects of the research that may be of interest to undergraduates looking into that area and even high school students?

Wagner: One area that is interesting is the combination of MDMA with psychotherapies that are already stand-alone psychotherapies. A lot of the work with MDMA and psychotherapy up until now has been with non-directive supportive psychotherapies, which would draw upon the skill sets and the best clinical skills of the providers – but they are not based on a treatment in and of itself that would be, for example, used to treat PTSD.

The theorizing I am doing is about combining things we know that work for a good segment of the population and adding MDMA into that as an adjunct to see if we can improve outcomes. It is to deepen and create breadth in our understanding how MDMA and other compounds work in terms of the psychotherapeutic process.

With MDMA, the offer of the opportunity to have this optimal zone of arousal, where you are activated enough to be able to experience emotion and sit with it and so that you are not fearful of those emotions, which is helpful with PTSD.

PTSD is clearly linked with avoidance, so to be able to feel your feelings and to have that experience in an MDMA session potentially adds something important to a trauma-focused treatment. I think that is a particularly interesting way forward for the treatment.

We did this pilot trial of this couple’s treatment, Cognitive Behavioural Conjoint Therapy for PTSD. I will be doing another pilot study with Cognitive Processing Therapy, which is an individual treatment for PTSD, with MDMA.

Then there is team in the US lead by Barbara Rothbaum who is going to be combining prolonged exposure with MDMA. All three of those protocols with Cognitive Behavioural approaches will be interesting to triangulate the data to show how these different interventions that we already use in practice that do have effects: what will happen when we combine with MDMA?

Jacobsen: What are the common variables or factors – I guess we can precisely say – positively correlate with preceding PTSD – or more colloquially – cause PTSD? What are those pathways for someone ending up with PTSD? With MDMA in particular, what are the pathways in the brain to reduce those symptoms of that disorder?

Wagner: We conceptualize PTSD as a disorder of impeded recovery. The idea is that when someone experiences a traumatic event, many people will develop symptoms that look like PTSD right away if the event is severe enough. Many will continue on this course of natural recovery, and will go back to baseline. Some will not follow that natural recovery as a trajectory. The idea is that conceptually, especially with Cognitive Behavioural treatment, is that there have been difficulties with memory reconsolidation but also making meaning of the event.

There is something that has gotten stuck in terms of that recovery trajectory. The idea with our current best treatments is that they are both exposure-based like CBCT (that offers approach assignments to things that people avoid when they have PTSD) and prolonged exposure (which offers an exposure literally to the memory of the event), and use cognitive approaches that make meaning of the trauma and associated thoughts that might be associated with it: blame, acceptance, trust, control, power, intimacy, and the like. The idea with combining the treatments with MDMA is that MDMA has strong effects on the brain with the release of certain neurotransmitters that allow a more easeful experience.

As well, there is activation of the prefrontal cortex and a quieting, if you will, of the amygdala. The amygdala is very heightened in PTSD. It is the fight, flight, freeze response that goes alongside a traumatic event or stimuli.

It is like this alarm system that does not go off afterward with PTSD. When that is quieted with the help of MDMA, it is experiencing and feeling what it is to not have that alarm system go off at quite the same rate and to experience the feelings that go alongside the trauma.

We facilitate this with treatments without MDMA. But the question is, “Can you help more people or others who have not been helped with these treatments using MDMA as well?”

Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time, Dr. Wagner.

Scott Jacobsen

Scott Jacobsen

Member-at-Large/Writer

(Last Update: September 28, 2016)

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 is the Founder of In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal and In-Sight Publishing. 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.

He published in American Enterprise InstituteAnnaborgiaConatus NewsEarth Skin & EdenFresh Start Recovery CentreGordon Neighbourhood HouseHuffington PostIn-Sight: Independent Interview-Based JournalJolly DragonsKwantlen Polytechnic University Psychology DepartmentLa Petite MortLearning Analytics Research GroupLifespan Cognition Psychology LabLost in SamaraMarijuana Party of CanadaMomMandyNoesis: The Journal of the Mega SocietyPiece of MindProduction ModeSynapseTeenFinancialThe PeakThe UbysseyThe Voice MagazineTransformative DialoguesTreasure Box KidsTrusted Clothes.

Radical Harm Reduction Out of the Woods

Radical Harm Reduction Out of the Woods

According to the University of Victoria, some radical harm reduction practices have begun to be brought into the public eye.

For examples, and a contrast, one methodology of harm reduction can be considered non-radical, which is the provision of safe needle exchange programs in specific areas of a neighbourhood. Another aspect could include on-site trained staff and Naloxone in case of overdoses for those in need of it.

The other, or as is called radical harm reduction in some reportage, is the use of the substance, at least in the case of alcohol, to curb the negative side effects of the substance in an individual’s unfortunate addiction.

A peer-reviewed academic journal has been compiling, and is reported to have completed the task, a list of the peer-reviewed literature on MAPs or Managed Alcohol Programs, which amount to the provision of measured doses of alcohol throughout the day in individuals with severe addiction to alcohol.

Given the descriptor “radical,” this, of course, does amount to a controversial program of action or branch of harm reduction methodology. But this goes back to a question about the evidence, especially the high quality peer-reviewed evidence. What does it say about MAPs in particular and radical harm reduction methodologies in general?

Drug and Alcohol Review published a special issue with four papers by researchers “at the University of Victoria’s Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research (CISUR, formerly CARBC) from the Canadian Managed Alcohol Program Study(CMAPS), which looks at data from approximately 380 individual MAP participants and controls across the country—the largest study ever conducted.”

Bernie Pauly and Tim Stockwell at the University of Victoria, the CMAPS Principal Investigators, reported that these amount to the most significant set of publication findings in relation to the work of MAPs.

They wrote, “It’s intended to stimulate debate and focus future research on strategies to improve outcomes for this vulnerable and often under-serviced population.”

Pauly said, “The initial results are promising in reducing acute and social harms as well as economic costs… We also need to take a closer look at how we can better provide culturally appropriate care to Indigenous people and more relevant services for women.”

The work by CISUR through MAPs is seen as a “made-in-Canada harm-reduction approach,” which continues to gain recognition in the local and global arenas. Community partners are assisting with their work.

References

Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research. (2018). Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research. Retrieved from https://www.uvic.ca/research/centres/cisur/.

The Canadian Managed Alcohol Program Study (CMAPS). (2018). The Canadian Managed Alcohol Program Study (CMAPS). Retrieved from https://www.uvic.ca/research/centres/cisur/projects/map/index.php.

Shore, R. (2018, February 20). Radical harm reduction for illicit alcohol may save lives, studies find. Retrieved from http://vancouversun.com/news/local-news/radical-harm-reduction-for-illicit-alcohol-may-save-lives-studies-find.

University of Victoria News. (2018, February 19). Radical harm reduction: coming out from under the radar. Retrieved from https://www.uvic.ca/news/topics/2018+cisur-managed-alcohol-programs+media-release.

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

Image Credit: Joel Tonyan.

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

​​

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.

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

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. Find out more.

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 ncristia@yorku.ca, or the coordinator of this initiative, Jenna Valleriani, directly at j.valleriani@gmail.com.

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.

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.”

References

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 http://www.newswire.ca/news-releases/canadian-centre-on-substance-use-and-addiction-hosts-canadas-largest-national-conference-on-prevention-harm-reduction-treatment-and-recovery-657184933.html.

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.

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

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

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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.

References

Bellrichard, C. (2012, November 6). Indigenous youth who use drugs in B.C. dying at an alarming rate, study finds. Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/news/indigenous/indigenous-youth-drugs-death-1.4388450.
Dacey, E. (2017, November 12). ‘Survival economy’: Winnipeg’s homeless struggling amid opioid crisis, lack of housing, say advocates. Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/homeless-winnipeg-opioid-survival-support-1.4392958.
Fentanyl Positive Sample Tests Increase 2,000%

Fentanyl Positive Sample Tests Increase 2,000%

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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.

References

Miller, A. (2017, November 9). EXCLUSIVE 2,000% rise in street drug samples testing positive for fentanyl. Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/shocking-rise-of-fentanyl-in-seized-street-drugs-1.4393906.

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

Abuse of Opioids Does Not Discriminate

Abuse of Opioids Does Not Discriminate

Image Credit: Flickr.

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.

References

Stein, J. (2017, November 7). Community Group CACTUS Strives for Harm-Reduction With Newly-Opened Safe Injection Site. Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/drug-testing-machine-pilot-vancouver-overdose-crisis-1.4396886.

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

New Device to be Piloted in British Columbia

New Device to be Piloted in British Columbia

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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.

References

CBC News. (2017, November 10). Drug testing machine to be piloted in Vancouver as overdose crisis continues. Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/drug-testing-machine-pilot-vancouver-overdose-crisis-1.4396886.

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

Red Zones Block Harm Reduction Service Access

Red Zones Block Harm Reduction Service Access

Image Credit: Pexels.

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.

References

Tran, H. (2017, November 8). Study finds bail ‘no-go’ zones block access to harm-reduction services. Retrieved from https://the-peak.ca/2017/11/study-finds-bail-no-go-zones-block-access-to-harm-reduction-services/.

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

The Public Have Concerns About Discarded Needles

The Public Have Concerns About Discarded Needles

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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.

References

Goffin, P. (2017, November 7). Residents raise concerns about discarded needles, public health workers say harm reduction programs part of solution. Retrieved from http://www.metronews.ca/news/canada/2017/11/07/residents-raise-concerns-about-discarded-needles-public-health-workers-say-harm-reduction-programs-part-of-solution.html.

Harm Reduction Trailer Approved for Murray Street

Harm Reduction Trailer Approved for Murray Street

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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.

References

Trinh, J. (2017, November 6). Health Canada approves supervised injection trailer at Ottawa shelter. Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/sanctioned-supervised-injection-site-trailer-shepherds-of-good-hope-overdose-1.4389413.

Harm Reduction Tent No Longer Usable in Moss Park

Harm Reduction Tent No Longer Usable in Moss Park

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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.

References

Giovannetti, J. (2017, November 5). Open-flame ban forces Toronto drug-use site to abandon heated medical tent. Retrieved from https://beta.theglobeandmail.com/news/toronto/open-flame-ban-forces-toronto-drug-use-site-to-abandon-heated-medical-tent/article36840863/?ref=http://www.theglobeandmail.com&.