Friday, February 17, 2012


We have positioned ourselves at DPNC as the voice for Prevention & Treatment in the community, in the media and in Parliament. 

Two weeks ago,  I met with B.C. Premier Christy Clark's right-hand man, Mike McDonald, about our shared concerns.

On Wednesday, our Vice-President, Gwen Landolt, made a short, powerful and excellent presentation to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee in Ottawa.

We are proud to share that presentation here with you.

February 15, 2012

Presented to: 

Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs


4438 West 10th Avenue, Suite 178
Vancouver, BC V6R 4R8
(604) 731-2425

Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs

Re:  Bill C-10
Amendments to Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA)
Part 2, Clauses 32-33, 39-48, and 50-51

Illicit drug use imposes tremendous economic and social costs on society in the form of health care, enforcement, loss of productivity in the workplace and at home, disability and death of addicts.

According to Antonio Mario Costa, Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), however, legal controls on drug use have been highly successful.[i] This is contrary to some claims, based solely on ideology, that prohibition does not work.  The latter is an incorrect assumption.   

One has only to analyze the results of prohibition in the US between 1920 and 1933.  Alcohol consumption declined dramatically during prohibition, noted by the large decrease in cirrhosis deaths (29.5 per 100,000 in 1911 and 10.7 in 1929).  Admissions to State mental hospitals for alcoholic psychosis declined from 10.1 per 100,000 in 1919 to 4.7 in 1928.  Arrests for public drunkenness and disorderly conduct declined by 50%.[ii] 

For the population as a whole, the best estimates are that consumption of alcohol declined by 30% to 50%.  That is, prohibition did not end alcohol use, but it did succeed by reducing by one-third the consumption of a product that had wide historical and popular sanction.[iii]  In contrast, the use of marijuana, heroin and other controlled drugs have never been a widely accepted activity in the US or in Canada.

Parliament’s Role to Determine Appropriate Sentences

It is Parliament’s role to advise courts and judges across the country, so that offenders are led to understand the severity of the offences they commit.  This objective can be achieved, inter alia, by mandatory minimum sentences.  Unfortunately, the application of judicial discretion in sentencing does not always achieve this objective.  It is detrimental to the interests of the Canadian public to rely solely on judicial discretion in sentencing, as it can lead to a loss of confidence and faith in the criminal justice system.  This is due to the fact that, regretfully, judicial discretion does not necessarily mean the application of common sense by judges when sentencing. In fact, judges, when sentencing, have frequently failed to balance the objectives of denunciation and general deterrence, with their desire for rehabilitation of the offender.  This has led, in all too many instances, to a chaotic sentencing regime for offences, especially in regard to marijuana grow ops and marijuana possession. That is, operators of grow-ops all too frequently are given minimum fines, and this “slap on the wrist” approach is regarded by the offenders as merely the cost of doing business, and in no way serves as a deterrent. According to The Royal Canadian Mounted Police Report (2009) on the illicit drug situation in Canada, domestically produced marijuana continues to provide a source of considerable profit for Canadian based organized crime.[iv]

Similarly, possession of cannabis is regarded by some liberal judges, for personal ideological reasons, to be merely a minor offence.  Consequently, in exercising their “discretion”, they have mostly handed down sentences of probation only.[v]  

According to the UN Office of Drugs and Crime (July 2007), Canada has the highest proportion of marijuana users in the industrialized world, reaching 16.8% of those between 15 and 64 years of age.  Cannabis offences rose 13% in Canada between 2009-2010.[vi]  The lenient sentencing (probation only) for cannabis possession has led to a public perception that marijuana use does not cause harm.  Well-informed individuals should understand, however, that marijuana is not a harmless drug.  In fact, there are many, many studies indicating the contrary.  Please refer to our website, under the heading, Drug Facts, Marijuana and for studies on harm caused by marijuana use.

Drug Courts

There are, at present, only six drug courts in Canada.  This is in contrast to literally thousands of such drug courts in the USA.

Drug courts provide non-violent drug users with the option of obtaining treatment in lieu of conviction.  That is, these courts provide a window of opportunity for the addict to obtain treatment, which the addict may not otherwise consider. It is significant that, whether the treatment is undertaken voluntarily, or by way of a court order, the rate of success remains the same. 

It is significant that in the USA, 75% of drug court graduates remain arrest-free at least two years after leaving the program.[vii]; [viii]  The National Crime Prevention Centre also reports that there is a significant decrease in drug use and drug related crimes for those who complete the court designated program[ix].  However, it is troubling that apparently only 14% of the participants of court-supervised treatment in Canada actually complete such programs.[x]   Therefore, strategies are urgently required to encourage participants to complete treatment programs, as well as to greatly increase the number of drug courts established across this country in order to assist drug addicts.

[i] The Observer September 5, 2010 (UK)

[ii] US Drug Enforcement Administration Speaking Out Against Drug Legalization online at, page 9.

[iii] Ibid.

[iv] Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Report on the Illicit Drug Situation in Canada- 2009.

[v] Dauvergne, “Trends in police-reported drug offences in Canada,” Juristat, Vol. 29, No 2, May 2009.

[vi] Ibid.

[vii] Roman et al, the Urban Institute and Caliber, “Recidivism Rates for Drug Court Graduates: Nationally Based Estimate-Final Report,” Washington D.C., 2003.

[viii] Department of Justice, Backgrounder (2 June 2005).

[ix] Public Safety Canada, National Crime Prevention Centre, Building the Evidence – Evaluation Summaries, “Drug Treatment Court of Vancouver (DTCV),” 2008-ES-18.

[x] Ibid.

Give us OXY-GEN instead

So much of this report is disturbing, not the least of which is the addiction of entire Aboriginal communities and the peculiar self-defeating response of their so-called leaders.
Oxy is an epidemic in Canada today and it continues to fly very much under all official radars.
Read the story below and weep - better yet, email your Member of Parliament.

OxyContin will soon be pulled from Canadian pharmacies

February 17, 2012
Megan Ogilvie
People forced off the powerful painkiller could replace it with heroin, crack cocaine and other dangerous drugs, doctors warn.
Steve Russell/Toronto Star

The narcotic painkiller OxyContin will soon be pulled from pharmacy shelves across the country, and addiction experts warn the move will spark a public health crisis in Northern Ontario where thousands of people in remote communities face involuntary and potentially dangerous withdrawal from the addictive drug.

Purdue Pharma, the company that manufacturers OxyContin, is set to replace the controversial medication with a new formulation of the drug called OxyNEO at the end of February. The new drug is formulated in such a way that it is more difficult to crush, and therefore less likely to be abused through injecting or snorting.

Among the Nishnawbe Aski Nation, or NAN, which represents 49 First Nation communities in Northern Ontario, at least half of residents are addicted to OxyContin, said Grand Chief Stan Beardy.

“In some communities, it’s as high as 70 to 80 per cent of people addicted to OxyContin, including kids as young as 9 years old to people as old 65,” Beardy said. 

“We are very concerned that if they cease manufacturing OxyContin and if there is no replacement or treatment or detox centres for these people, there is going to be a major catastrophe.”

He said health care in the communities is limited to nursing stations with visiting doctors coming to treat residents two or three days each month — not enough care to deal with the thousands of people who will be forced into withdrawal.

Benedikt Fischer, director of the Centre for Applied Research in Mental Health and Addictions at Vancouver’s Simon Fraser University, agrees the situation in Northern Ontario is dire.

“We are literally watching a public health catastrophe unfolding in slow motion,” he said, adding that the crisis is comparable to the spread of HIV among injection drug users in the 1980s and the overdose epidemic that hit Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside in the 1990s.

People forced off the powerful painkiller could replace it with heroin, crack cocaine and other dangerous drugs, and they will be more likely to inject drugs, increasing the spread of infectious diseases, said Fischer, who estimates 10,000 of the 45,000 NAN residents are addicted. And, he added, communities will likely see a spike in overdoses, a greater risk of miscarriage in pregnant women and a proliferation of crime.

On Thursday, Health Canada confirmed that as of Feb. 15 OxyContin had been pulled from the Non-Insured Health Benefits Program, which provides drug coverage for more than 800,000 registered First Nations and recognized Inuit.

However, a spokesperson for the agency said most of those addicted to OxyContin are not receiving the drug through government-funded legal prescriptions. Fewer than 100 NAN members get the drug paid for by the department, said Health Canada spokesperson Leslie Meerburg.
The Ontario Ministry of Health has not yet said how it will fund OxyNEO, nor is it clear how much OxyContin is stockpiled in the province.

“There is little concern of withdrawal for clients switching therapy from OxyContin to OxyNeo when taken as prescribed by a physician,” she said. “However, it is possible that some clients who obtained OxyContin through other sources may go into withdrawal when OxyContin is removed from the Canadian market and they are unable to find another source of supply.

“This is a concern for any individual who obtains and uses OxyContin outside of appropriate medical indications.”

Grand Chief Beardy acknowledged the vast majority of OxyContin abused by NAN residents is sold on the black market, with individual pills selling for between $300 and $600.

The potent painkiller has helped fuel an epidemic of opioid addiction in Canada. In Ontario, the rate of deaths involving narcotic painkillers went from 13.7 per million in 1991 to 27.2 per million in 2004.

On Feb. 6, the Cat Lake First Nation declared a state of emergency because 70 per cent of residents were addicted to OxyContin.

Beardy said he and others have called on the federal and provincial governments for help, but have received little response.

“We were asking for detox centres, treatment centres, frontline health professionals, including doctors, psychologists and psychiatrists,” he said.

Fischer said an emergency program needs to be put in place. Ideally, the rapid launch of prevention and treatment interventions should include, among other things, needle exchange programs to prevent the spread of infectious disease and providing addicts with substitution drugs, such as methadone or suboxone.

“We need to find ways to get these treatments to these communities as widely and effectively as possible,” he said.

Health Canada said the NIHB program covers methadone and suboxone, but recognizes that access to the drugs is a “significant issue” for those in remote locations.

“In such instances, the NIHB Program reviews requests from health providers on a case-by-case basis and will provide coverage for suboxone to help ensure First Nations clients have access to this drug without leaving their community,” Meerburg said.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


Today, the Vancouver Sun is chock-full of stories about the shortfall of funding for senior's health and housing concerns.

In recent weeks, similar stories have been presented about overcrowded ER facilities in our largest regional hospitals.

We continue to have the worst record in the country in dealing with child poverty.


And yet, only the fearless Mark Hasiuk of the Vancouver Courier has written in plain English the obscenity of funding that continues to flown into a rogue group whose basic platform is this:

"We are drug addicts and we like to be drug addicts and we have the right to be drug addicts and you the taxpayer should pay us to be drug addicts."

This group never explains how its "members" get the money to shoot heroin or use other illegal substances.

But hey - when the Provincial government is giving you $250,000/year and the City of Vancouver is giving you $20,000/year, why worry?

Please read Mark's article below and then email your MLA and demand that this money be returned and that this kind of funding is never repeated.

Vancouver pro-drug lobby doesn’t deserve taxpayer dollars
VANDU gets $250,000 from province, $20,000 from city hall

By Mark Hasiuk, Vancouver CourierFebruary 13, 2012

Two hundred and fifty thousand dollars.

That’s how much Vancouver Coastal Health, your public health authority, gave VANDU, the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users, last year. This year, according to VCH officials, VANDU will receive another $250,000 from taxpayers, continuing a provincial funding scheme established in 1999.

Most Vancouverites don’t know VANDU. Headquartered in a brick building at 380 East Hastings in the Downtown Eastside, it’s a non-profit hangout conforming to neighbourhood drug culture. Folks gather outside on the sidewalk and inside the lobby. Traffic seems to have increased since December when VANDU began distributing free crack pipes to addicts, part of a VCH crack pipe giveaway. But mainly, thanks to longtime leader Ann Livingston, VANDU exists for activism.

Wherever police move against drugs, VANDU is there. Whenever Insite stages a street-level show of support, VANDU, which according to the city’s website offers cash “stipends” for "VANDU work," shows up. Livingston and company crash city hall, chiding council for police sins like the ticketing of illegal street vendors. Last week, following a four-year legal battle, the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal dismissed a complaint from VANDU and the Pivot Legal Society who claimed the Downtown Ambassadors, a private security firm, discriminated against the homeless. Not even the tribunal, which relies on frivolous cases and flimsy evidence, could justify VANDU’s complaints.

Under the radar, VANDU provides “public speakers” and “research and consultation” to anyone interested in the VANDU point of view. Before booking a VANDU expert, you must call for a “free consultation.” Any additional fees are unknown. Livingston did not return calls for this column. But in 2009, she told the Courier that VANDU employs three paid staff members who help organize group meetings and “counselling” sessions at 380 East Hastings.

Of course, counselling is subjective, depending largely on the goal. According to VANDU’s “manifesto for a Drug User Liberation Movement” available on its website, folks have the “right to obtain, prepare, and ingest drugs, and to be intoxicated on drugs.” It continues: “We might take drugs to deal with psychological trauma or physical pain, or for pleasure or fun… our drug use is a response to our experiences of poverty, inequality, colonization, forced migration, workplace injury and inadequate access to pain relief.”

This is the VANDU gospel. Enablement on steroids. Victimization, stamped and validated. Music to the ears of the addict who organizes life around shunned responsibility. Every school of addiction treatment recognizes past trauma and the desire to self-medicate. That’s what addiction is. While sober minds can debate drug policy and decriminalization, the realities of addiction remain constant. Addicts want more. In response, VANDU celebrates drug abuse. Its 1,089-word manifesto excludes the words “addiction” and “addict,” calling drug abusers “oppressed people.”

Here’s why. According to the VANDU website, only “a person who has formerly, or is presently using illicit drugs” can become a voting member of the organization. To be clear. Addicts are people. Our friends, our family, our brothers and sisters. They deserve love and respect among, what Christ called, the “weary and burdened.” But until they recover, addicts place their addictions first. Any edict born from a group of addicts, under the influence of radical ideologues, will promote more enablement, more denial. Yet in a neighbourhood steeped in addiction, where treatment and prevention remains an afterthought, our provincial government funds this madness.

Why? Where’s the benefit? VANDU’s message helps fuel drug culture in the Downtown Eastside and a never-ending bill of housing, welfare, medical, policing and court costs.

But that’s not all. In addition to cash from Victoria, VANDU received $20,000 from city hall last year and will receive another $20,000 in 2012. Moreover, since 2006, VANDU headquarters has operated without a development permit. Back in 2009, Livingston said she was “negotiating” with the city. Apparently, negotiations have stalled.

VANDU is a cancer in a neighbourhood struggling to breathe. Its public funding is obscene. No government, at any level, has received a mandate from voters to prop up a pro-dope lobby.

Twitter: @MarkHasiuk

© Copyright (c) Vancouver Courier

Saturday, February 4, 2012


Dear Referral Agents, Care Providers & like minded Community Members

Our house is open to you on Wednesday, February 15th from 12-1:30pm. 1755 E. 11th Avenue, Vancouver (between Commercial and Victoria, 2 blocks from the Broadway Skytrain station).

We are all focused on a common goal and you’d agree that leaving our offices once in a while and seeing what happens on the other side of the fence, putting a face to a name, sharing some ideas and sampling some of our kitchen’s delicacy’s might be an ok way to break up an afternoon.

Pacifica is a short but important path along the continuum of care and your involvement is crucial in bringing forth the meagre 10% of addicts that are eventually admitted here. We appreciate what you do and this is our way of thanking you and satisfying any curiosities you may have.

We would appreciate your RSVP’s as would our kitchen, back to this address. Our staff look forward to seeing you on Feb.15.

We hope to see you here!