Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Friday, August 10, 2018

Are We Becoming Concerned Yet?

"We are witnessing the beginning of a real debate around the wider legally regulated availability of drugs in Canada. The legalization of cannabis has opened peoples' minds to the idea of responsible regulation, whilst the opioid crisis has forced the debate into new territory. The window of opportunity is now wide open."
"Which drugs would be available, to whom, and where? These are tricky questions, but once we are able to answer under a legally regulated model where government has taken back control, rather than abdicating all responsibility to criminal market forces. More risky substances could be available only via a medical prescription model with supervised use, like heroin in Switzerland. Certain medium-risk drugs, including certain stimulants and party drugs, could be available on a rationed basis to adults from pharmacies, perhaps with a licensed buyer model, once they have proven they understand the risks. Other lower-risk drugs could be more available through appropriate licensed retailing, as we are about to do with cannabis."
David-Martin Milot, medical specialist in public health and preventive medicine, Canada
Steve Rolles, Senior Policy Analyst, Transform Drug Policy Foundation, United Kingdom
One in seven cannabis users with a driver's licence said they had got behind the wheel at least once within two hours of using the drug in the past three months. (Shutterstock)

So, open our minds a little further, beyond merely legalizing marijuana, so that criminal charges would not apply to anyone using once-forbidden drugs. Serious 'substances' needing a medical prescription and supervised use; medium-risk drugs available on a rationed track from pharmacies after an educational interrogation, and low-risk drugs obtained through licensed retailing. To some people with an independent streak this might seem like the same old interfering government auspices that so irritates those who feel they should be empowered to just get the stuff and get on with it.

The result being that the kind of black market activities with freely available drugs of all descriptions whose prices are becoming more 'affordable' increasingly, will remain in force, due to popular demand. Complete with the sociopathic compulsion to maximize profitability by 'cutting' drugs with cheaper, more powerful alternatives. People being people, are psychologically driven to resistance against imposing rules for anything they feel is their right to engage in without interference from any source.

As for imposing rules and expecting that law-abiding citizens will adhere to them for everyone's benefit, it ain't necessarily so.

Not until November, two months' hence will pot be entirely legalized in Canada, with a few provisos that edible forms will remain illegal, and only government-appointed sources will be mandated under license to sell those forms of the drug that are permitted, leaving the system in place for medical marijuana to its own devices. And one can only wonder what the end result will be; do government authorities really believe that cannabis will be kept out of the hands of vulnerable youth whose brains, still in their formative stage science has shown can be deleteriously affected with its use?

This appeal to legalize all drugs is an interesting one, reflecting in large part desperation on the part of government agencies and the medical community in the emergency efforts to deal with a rising tide of opioid overdoses leading to death. Aligned with the recognition that up to the present, laws that have criminalized non-medical drug use have failed dismally, in lock-step with the reality of criminal gangs from street corner operations to national syndicates having flourished -- and their scruples end where profits begin.

A new Statistics Canada survey reveals an "alarming" number of Canadians have driven a vehicle while high on cannabis or have been passengers in such vehicles.
A new Statistics Canada survey reveals an "alarming" number of Canadians have driven a vehicle while high on cannabis or have been passengers in such vehicles.     CKWS
Statistics Canada has just released its second quarterly national cannabis survey, and according to the results an "alarming" number of Canadians evidently don't think twice about driving while high on cannabis. Admittedly, nowhere near all cannabis users flout common sense, yet 14 percent with a driver's licence revealed that within two hours of consuming cannabis they decided to get behind the wheel of a vehicle ... and this, while cannabis use yet remains illegal.

Five percent of Canadians over age 14 have been a passenger in a vehicle being driven by someone who had used cannabis in the preceding two hours. Public danger? You bet. These quarterly surveys being conducted by Statistics Canada represent an effort meant to measure social and economic impacts involved in the legalization of cannabis. It's one thing to discourage people from driving while high but the issue of cannabis strength and individual users' reaction to pot, certainly complicates the matter.

This second quarter data revealed that roughly 4.6 million Canadians, representing about 16 percent of Canadians age 15 and over, reported the use of cannabis in the three-month period before the survey was undertaken. Men, close to two times likelier than women to drive while high on marijuana. On the national scene, cannabis use was higher in Nova Scotia at 21 percent than the national average, with Ontario at 18 percent -- Whitehorse 23 percent, Yellowknife 27 percent and Iqaluit 33 percent.
"I think if you compare it to alcohol, they're shocking [statistics that the rate of Canadians who drive after using using pot is triple the number of those consuming alcohol in the preceding two hours before driving]."
"I think [however, that] once people get the idea that police do have the tools, that they can detect drug-impaired drivers, especially cannabis, then I think like alcohol with the breathalyzer it'll start to lower those rates."
Andrew Murie, CEO, MADD Canada
You think?
According to Statistics Canada’s latest cannabis survey, 14 per cent of users are driving within two hours of consumption.
According to Statistics Canada’s latest cannabis survey, 14 per cent of users are driving within two hours of consumption.  (Sean Kilpatrick / The Canadian Press)

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