Monday, November 13, 2017



THE ODD SQUAD has been in business for 20 years now re-directing kids at risk into productive, creative and clean and sober lives.

The Society's 20th Anniversary Gala includes a huge conference with a galaxy of powerful and informed speakers.

The BIG EVENT is Friday, December 1st. Be there or be square.

Please go to their website and click on the EVENTS tab to get the full story.

More importantly, get some tickets and help support a great local group of dedicated police officers, both active and retired, who have been nationally recognized for extraordinary commitment to their community.

Saturday, November 4, 2017


Open Letter Re: defeat Bill C.45 on the grounds of violations of human rights.

Dear MPs of the Parliament of Canada and Members of the Canadian Senate.

As you know, the impending approval of marijuana for non-medical use is controversial, as based on the marked increase in car accidents, emergency room visits, and hospitalizations in Colorado after recreational cannabis approval.

In addition many Canadians, organizations and corporate entities are against the legalization of marijuana. The vast majority of the electorate continue to not use marijuana and do not support more marijuana use in their society. The reasons for this wide disapproval are as follows:

Marijuana is a serious threat to the physical and mental health of Canadians and its use is a major threat to public safety. 1 Marijuana use is strongly associated with the onset of psychiatric disorders. 2 Mental illness causes crime, homelessness, enormous societal costs and suffering.  Marijuana use has also been linked to mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts. 3 Marijuana use is associated with an increased risk of prescription opioid misuse and use disorders. 4

In 2017, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) concluded after a review of over 10,000 peer-reviewed academic articles, that marijuana use is connected to many problems including: respiratory problems; mental health issues (like psychosis, social anxiety, and thoughts of suicide); increased risk of car accidents; progression to and dependence on other drugs; learning, memory, and attention loss (possibly permanent in some cases); and low birth weight. 5

Health Canada acknowledges the science the substantiates the risk that marijuana products pose to reproductive health and state these products should not be used if a woman is pregnant, is planning to get pregnant, or is breast-feeding, and should not be used by a man who wishes to start a family, are under the age of 25. 6

It is requested of the federal government that a Child Rights Impact Assessment be undertaken to determine conformity of Bill C45 with the UN- Rights of the Child Treaty. A key aspect of this analysis should be widespread consultation with children and youth, pursuant to Article 12 of the UNCRC. If such an assessment determines the proposed legalization framework violates the terms of this important human rights treaty, under which both the federal and provincial governments are legally bound, all elected members of Parliament must be guided to defeat Bill C-45 on the grounds and basis of human rights violations. 7

Canada cannot function if a large percentage of its population is addicted or mentally ill or mentally impaired due to marijuana use. A Canadian’s right to security under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms must not be ignored and this extends to every Canadians right to protection from drugged drivers as well as protection from second-hand marijuana smoke.. Therefore, all elected officials with a sworn duty to protect the interests of all Canadians must in the strongest possible terms accept their duty of care in regards determining the viability and legality of the proposed legislation of Bill-C-45.

Pamela McColl – – Canada


1. Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health, November, 2016, Chapters One and two and Appendix D pp.65-66 at:

2. American Psychiatric Association, Position Statement on Marijuana as Medicine, paragraph 1 found at:

3. “Is Marijuana Addictive?” DrugFacts: Marijuana, (June 2015), at: - citing: Hasin DS, Saha TD, Kerridge BT, et al. Prevalence of Marijuana Use Disorders in the United States Between 2001-2002 and 2012-2013. JAMA Psychiatry. 2015;72(12):1235-1242.  doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2015.1858.


5. Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids: Current State of Evidence and Recommendations for Research



Tuesday, October 31, 2017


The only way to truly follow the trajectory of drug marketing is to read the financial news. The old adage of "Follow the money" is as reliable as it has always been.

Reprinted in this morning's Vancouver Sun, the Financial Post shrieks with glee that a major American beer and wine company has just paid a small fortune for a significant share of a Canadian marijuana firm. The writers call this 'a bold move.'

The next investors in our burgeoning marijuana industry are Big Tobacco and Big Pharma. It only makes sense, doesn't it? Aren't we just kicking ourselves for not getting on the hay ride earlier, you know, like so many of our former politicians did.

Oh well, for those of us in the recovery business, I guess we'll have our hands full and we'll be busy and making scads of money too. Ain't life grand? And it's going to be so much fun working with addicted eight year old children. I guess recess will be mandated for all residential programs. And maybe reading and writing and arithmetic. I can see it now. Provincial governments will all have a new department called Mental Health, Addictions and Education. Tidy.

Saturday, October 21, 2017


An excellent op-ed piece is headlining in the Vancouver Sun today. It is written by Dr. Jessica Ross and it appeared originally in the National Post under a different title.

This morning, in the Sun, the item is called "Kids must be told the full story on pot's health risks."

It is a great read full of both professional and home truths. And the basic advice in the title is appropriate.

But here's another another suggestion about to whom we might tell the full pot story.

We could tell a former Premier, Attorney General and Health Minister of the Province of British Columbia all of whom have major interests in private "medical" marijuana companies.

We can all hardly wait until we are elected to public office so we can retire as soon as possible and become dope dealers  to children of 8 and 9.

Friday, October 20, 2017


THE ODD SQUAD has been in business for 20 years now re-directing kids at risk into productive, creative and clean and sober lives.

The Society's 20th Anniversary Gala includes a huge conference with a galaxy of powerful and informed speakers.

The BIG EVENT is Friday, December 1st. Be there or be square.

Please go to their website and click on the EVENTS tab to get the full story.

More importantly, get some tickets and help support a great local group of dedicated police officers, both active and retired, who have been nationally recognized for extraordinary commitment to their community.

Thursday, October 19, 2017


Nicholas Kristof authors a blistering op-ed in The New York Times today. The piece is titled, "Drug Dealers in Lab Coats."

The sheer numbers (profits, bribes, deaths) are staggering and the malfeasance  and lack of public or political corrective action is sickening. 

The article is an excellent follow-up to the work of the Washington Post and "60 Minutes."

Canada is no different.

We scurry to revive overdose victims on the street. That's a good thing. But we offer them no hope for treatment, recovery and a sober life and we would never dare to sue pharmaceutical corporations, or pharmacists or doctors. My goodness no. But that is exactly what some folks are now doing south of the border.

Attention must be paid.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017


The following was sent to us by our friend and colleague, Pamela McColl, head of Smart Approaches to Marijuana. What can the harm reductionists now say about "evidence-based" work?

Science Spotlight
From the National Institute on Drug Abuse

September 26, 2017

Marijuana use is associated with an increased risk of prescription opioid misuse and use disorders

Research suggests that marijuana users may be more likely than nonusers to misuse prescription opioids and develop prescription opioid use disorder. The study was conducted by researchers at the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the National Institutes of Health, and Columbia University. 
Photo by NIDA 
The investigators analyzed data from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions, which interviewed more than 43,000 American adults in 2001-2002, and followed up with more than 34,000 of them in 2004-2005. The analysis indicated that respondents who reported past-year marijuana use in their initial interview had 2.2 times higher odds than nonusers of meeting DSM-IV diagnostic criteria for prescription opioid use disorder by the follow-up. They also had 2.6 times greater odds of initiating prescription opioid misuse, defined as using a drug without a prescription, in higher doses, for longer periods, or for other reasons than prescribed.
A number of recent papers suggest that marijuana may reduce prescription opioid addiction and overdoses by providing an alternate or complementary pain relief option. That suggestion is partly based on comparisons of aggregate data from states that legalized marijuana for medical use vs. those that didn’t. In contrast, the current study focuses on individual marijuana users vs. nonusers and their trajectories with regard to opioid misuse and disorders. These findings are in-line with previous research demonstrating that people who use marijuana are more likely than non-users to use other drugs and develop problems with drug use.
For a copy of the paper – “Cannabis Use and Risk of Prescription Opioid Use Disorder in the United States” – published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, go to:
For information about the link between marijuana use and increased risk of addiction to other drugs, go to:
For more information, contact the NIDA press office at or 301-443-6245. Follow NIDA on Twitter and Facebook.

Monday, September 25, 2017


We are not alone in our inadequate and uninformed response to the opioid crisis.

The numbers in America are staggering and, by population, even worse than ours.

The New Yorker article highlighted above is worth reading.

Then we must all ask what to do next?

And if we actually
know the answer, who will listen?

Wednesday, September 20, 2017


If I told you that New England Patriots Quarterback Tom Brady has left the team and football to star in a Broadway musical about a famous NFL QB who finds happiness hiding in an Al Qaeda cell in the suburbs of Beirut...would you say that this is just too much stretching of credulity?


Then, how about this?

Company unveils kosher medical marijuana, just in time for Rosh Hashanah

Still not a believer?

That's alright. I'm a Jew and I'm struggling with this one myself.

So, here is the actual true story coming from the magical make-believe land of Canada.

Good old Rabbi Teitlebaum to the rescue.

Thursday, August 31, 2017


The Vancouver Sun has been making a habit recently of telling us things that most of us have known for ages. This morning was a prime example.


Well, you must read the whole gruesome story for all the rich details.

Like this great quote.

"We have to be concerned with protecting the health of young Canadians."

This is from the fellow who used to be responsible for how we spent our tax dollars on health issues and who now is moving to another province so that he can produce and sell marijuana.

Somehow, good old boy Terry seems to have missed the point that kids are now turning to marijuana in huge numbers by the age of eight and by their teens they are full blown addicts to crack, coke, heroin and all those new nasty opioids that are killing our citizens in large numbers.

How do we know this? Because folks like me work in recovery and treatment and we receive these human train wrecks by the car load.

But, hey. Follow the money. Because that is all this tale is about.

The article also mentions his daughter presenting some scientific information at a New York conference. What is not mentioned is that Lake's daughter worked for the number one Harm Reductionist in Canada. Oddly, that doctor regularly received millions of dollars from government offices.

Curiouser and curiouser.

Terry Lake is now channeling Donald Trump. Lying through his teeth and actually believing his own press releases.

But money can do that to you.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017


In physics and finance and a few other human concerns, there is a moment called the tipping point. It is that Nano-second just before the break boundary when something becomes entirely something else. Kitty Hawk is suddenly the Apollo Mission.

In this country, we have reached that tipping point when it comes to addictions and recovery.

It was only a scant 20 years ago, that Vancouver Mayor Philip Owen began talking about something called Harm Reduction, the notion that the very least we could do for these poor bedraggled, mystifying infuriating crazy drug addicts was ‘make them comfortable.’ Give them something and some place that would not cure them, but at a minimum keep them from getting diseases from using shared needles and other unsavory practices.

We had already been giving some addicts a substitute lab-made narcotic called methadone for many years. Soon we were giving many, many more people methadone and free heroin and free crack pipe kits and free alcohol and nice tidy, nurse-run places to shoot up. Insite in Vancouver’s Downtown East Side is world famous and considered a great role model for civic minded people all over the world who clamor to open as many similar locations as Cineplexes.

We don’t have mobile cancer clinics or osteoporosis wagons – even though we have hugely skewed aging populations in this country – but many mayors are shopping for mobile ‘safe injection’ units to patrol the leafier neighbourhoods of towns hither and yon.

Today, the ideology of Harm Reduction holds sway in every corner of the community – health authorities, legislatures, parliament, doctors, psychiatrists, universities and colleges.

Sitting on my desk today is a 77 page document entitled “A Guideline for the Clinical Management of Opioid Use Disorder.” It is published and distributed by the British Columbia Ministry of Health (The retiring Minister will be heading up a medical marijuana enterprise when he returns to civilian life.) and something called the British Columbia Centre on Substance Use. The list of well-initialed academics who are contributors or reviewers to this new bible runs a full three pages. Topping the many individuals, groups, associations and governments to whom grateful acknowledgements are offered is the College of Pharmacists of British Columbia.

Residential treatment can be found on page 21. It is largely dismissed due to lack of ‘evidence.’

Everything else in this hefty tome claims to be based on ‘science.’

What is everything else?

Pharmaceuticals, of course.

At this point, let’s remind the reader of the first principle of journalism. Follow the Money.

Keep that uppermost as you read on. Here are some numbers

Last year and the year before, the Province of British Columbia spent $365 Million on a four square block of land in Vancouver called the Downtown East Side. There are over 100 social service agencies plying their trade in that neighbourhood. Many of these non-profits have Executive Directors being paid in six figures.

The same government spent about $100 Million on methadone, but those monies are shifted across the table to another expenditure column so they don’t really show up under the budget of Mental Health & Addictions.

We are currently supporting over 20,000 human beings on long term methadone maintenance with no known or projected date to taper off and quit.

Everyone is aware of the worldwide nightmare and tragedy called Fentanyl.

But not enough people know these two dreadful facts:

One. Of the people who die of a Fentanyl overdose, 20% of them are methadone users. Whoops! How well is that idea working?

Two. Emergency Response Team members, most of whom are suffering massively from PTSD having to attend to addicts in overdose too often, will tell you that they are mightily tired of reviving a guy named Eddie 5 times a day. The problem with the mythical Eddie is that no one is allowed to revive him and then take him to a recovery centre so that he could start the hard and honorable work of getting away from his addictions. And the reason that EMT folks cannot take that extra step is because we, as a society believe that it is Eddie’s Charter given right to keep being a fool, hang the cost to the public purse.

Now, I have worked successfully with addicts for many years now and I can’t imagine bringing Eddie back to life and NOT taking that extra step.

It is important at this juncture to recognize that addictions are not only a problem and a scourge and a tragedy and a stain on our lives, but they are also very Big Business.

The Harm Reductionists, who at the moment are in the driver’s seat, are exactly like the addicts they fail to help. The addict wants to simplify the challenges and exigencies of daily life. Instead of dealing with the mortgage, the spouse, the business partner, the kids, the neighbour or the guy whizzing by at dangerous speeds, the addict has a drink or a line of coke or a needle or a pipe. He or she bottles and encapsulates all of life’s problems. Simple. The Harm Seduction people also want a simple answer to a complex problem. We’ll give them a substitute drug and a place to use and call it a day.

This might work if the substance was the issue. It is not.

The substance is the symptom of a much larger and puzzling malaise. Work and time are the solutions.

The people who are running the great official addictions enterprise now actively and openly denigrate 12-step programs and residential treatment. They claim, in what is a classic example of psychological projection, that folks like me and my colleagues are ideologues and that they in their wisdom are great evidence based scientists. 

They are hauling in and spending many billions of tax dollars with little or no demonstration of any clean or sober citizen clients. They are building corrals of drugged up, stunned human beings forever dependent on the largess of these clever men and women. A dystopian and ugly scenario.

Note how much of their ‘research’ and funding comes from Big Pharma.

Harm Reduction has the microphone for the moment. May the return of what one great Canadian called ‘sweet reasonableness’ be upon us sooner than later.

Harm reduction and Insite are palliative.

They both spring from a deeply cynical and arrogant world view – You are an addict and you are hopeless. We will keep you “comfortable” while you continue to die.

This is a curious position considering the millions of men and women who admit that they are addicts and choose every day not to pick up their poison. We know thousands of such clean and sober citizens.

We as a body politic owe one another a chance at dignity. To offer less is not only costly, it is monstrous.

Saturday, April 1, 2017


Stop worrying about foreign investors buying up all the property in your neighbourhood. The new owner is moving in.

Read today's New York Times article called A REAL ESTATE BOOM POWERED BY POT.

The numbers are mind-boggling...that is, for anyone who still has a functioning mind.

It is easy to understand why former mayors, premiers, ministers of health and police chiefs are all heading boards of "medical" marijuana companies.

Just as easy to see why some of you may feel like you're watching a new live-action version of "The Invasion of the Body Snatchers."

Sunday, March 12, 2017


Dr. Ray Baker and I got into a bit of a debate over the last post here about Human Rights vs. Public Safety. 

Because he was part of the team who developed the new IMPAIRED AT WORK protocol for the Canadian Human Rights Commission, I asked him the following:

Can an employee who appears to be impaired during his/her duties be removed for the next 24 hours?

I think this is the case in the airlines and I think the Americans are tougher than we are, yes?

His answer:

It comes down to a case of human rights vs. safety. If safety is a factor than it always trumps the individualy worker’s rights.

So, yup, safety sensitive workers ( vehicle operators, equipment operators, people who perform functions who when they mess up might hurt somebody else) or highly responsible (teachers, doctors) personnel MUST be immediately removed from the safety sensitive task if impairment is suspected.  To not do so is both a criminal and WCB offence.

Usually when they are removed, they may be sent for some sort of brief evaluation to determine the cause of impairment.  Sometimes it’s drug testing, but sometimes its a more thorough occupational medical evaluation. Then they can’t go back to work until/unless found medically fit.  Sometimes that means a treatment program followed by a period of monitoring.

Which he followed by adding:

The neat thing about this approach is this:

If a lousy employee with bad attitude is impaired at work or if he/she demonstrates unacceptable attendance, performance or behaviour, then the employer may discipline them up to firing them (just cause)

But if the employee can demonstrate a disability or disorder that could account for the impairment/attendance/performance/behaviour, then the employer is forced to “accommodate them”

But built into this is the obligation for the bad employee to:

1. undergo diagnostic evaluation and treatment planning
2. demonstrate compliance with the treatment plan
3. continue to demonstrate ongoing compliance with a continuing care plan in the case of a chronic condition with relapse potential

so either way you got them: either the employer gets back an improved worker
or the worker continues on their path and the employer will be allowed to get rid of them

Get well or get gone.

Works like a hot damn.

And I know more than a few people who are now in good recovery because their employer finally grew a spine and fired them.  That was enough of a ‘bottom’ for them to do what only they can do and seek help

Saturday, March 11, 2017



Toronto transit staff won’t likely be subject to drug tests. Howard Levitt explains why.

Courts should place public safety first over political correctness so passengers, in the Toronto Transit Commission case, don’t have to worry about the sobriety of their driver, writes Howard Levitt.
New York, London and Sydney all have random testing for their transit workers. Although Toronto Transit Commission workers also deal with public safety every day, they probably won’t end up having to comply with random drug and alcohol tests. Why not?

The answer is that the Ontario Human Rights Code considers drug and alcohol addiction a disability and protects employees from being discriminated against by being tested. In other words, you can’t single them out, you can’t fire them and you can’t administer random drug and alcohol tests. But that doesn’t mean the TTC shouldn’t try.

When the TTC gave notice to its union that it intended to implement random drug testing of all employees in “safety-sensitive positions,” including bus, streetcar and subway operators, starting March 1, the union’s response was swift and predictable.

It argued that accusations of systemic drug and alcohol use were unfounded and that oral swabbing for illicit drugs and alcohol breathalyzer tests violated employees’ charter rights. The union filed an injunction blocking the implementation of the program, now delayed until April 1, pending a court decision.

The employer claims that drug and alcohol abuse among its workers is a big problem, and it has done its homework. Court documents cite over 100 positive employee drug and alcohol tests between 2012 and 2016. Other incidents include criminal law issues, such as employees purchasing crystal meth during breaks, consuming cocaine in the bathroom and even a TTC crane operator trafficking OxyContin and methadone. In the eyes of one TTC investigator, these are not isolated incidents, but indicative of a “culture of drug and alcohol abuse at the TTC.”

You would think that, given this evidence, random drug testing should be the next logical step. While it is, and the TTC believes it is, courts and arbitrators will almost assuredly determine otherwise.

The law says random drug testing cannot be imposed unless there is a demonstrated history of problems in the workplace related to drug or alcohol abuse, the positions are “safety sensitive,” and there is a real, demonstrable risk of injury.

Whether the TTC can meet this threshold will come down to management’s ability to establish that a few hundred positive tests over several years constitutes a systemic drug and alcohol problem in a public transit company that employs over 10,000 workers in so-called “safety sensitive” positions. My view is that it won’t.

That’s because the real issue standing in the TTC’s way has very little to do with the union and statute law. Their real fight is a series of decisions written predominantly by Human Rights Tribunal members and arbitrators in human rights cases. Until Parliament and the legislature intervene and rewrite the law to protect the public, the union will likely prevail.

Even if the TTC is ultimately granted permission to administer random drug tests, a positive test result will not result in the ability to terminate employees for cause. The employer must demonstrate that the behaviour prevents the employee from effectively and efficiently carrying out his or her duties. It must also provide employees with warnings and an opportunity to seek treatment. Only if an employer provides a reasonable treatment opportunity and the employee fails to comply and improve performance, will the employer generally have just cause for dismissal.

The TTC is acting responsibly by prioritizing public safety. Passengers should be able to rely on public transit without worrying about the sobriety of their driver. Let’s hope the court will see the issue through that prism. If not, there may be one fortunate concomitant, a public reaction against human rights tribunals placing political correctness over public safety.

Thursday, January 26, 2017


So many ordinary sensible citizens keep wondering and asking why there are so few treatment beds for addicts and in particular for young addicts.

The entire explanation was revealed yesterday.

A senior bureaucrat at Vancouver Coastal Health said it and it was reported in Metro Newspaper.

Here it is.

Wait for it, cause it's a doozy.




Addiction is not a choice.

Yes, when you pick up your glass of gin or wine at 8:05 a.m., there is actually a secret mysterious devil creature forcing your elbow to bend.

When you turn into the liquor store parking lot instead of picking up the girls after school, it's the fault of those new Nissan SUV's that are pre-programmed to always go to the booze outlet.


You see, it's beyond your control and therefore, because you cannot help yourself, self-help, like A.A. and N.A. and C.A, are all out of the question. They don't work. Fuggetit!

What you really need, you poor out of control slob, is a doctor and a pharmacist to keep you in clover.

In other words, you need the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority to manage your unmanageable life. And we will do that by legalizing all substances and giving you free doses as you like to keep you quiet.


Nice philosophy. And helpful.

Well, pardon us if some of us still cling to the peculair belief that human values, thinking and actions are choices.

We recognize full well that there are powerful psychological and emotional mechanisms driving us towwards certain choices.

But as we have now witnessed many thousands (and heard of many millions) of people who learned about themselves and then MADE THE CHOICE to not pick up their poison ever again, often in spite of bad history, well we have come to believe that



The Health Authorities are starting from the entirely wrong place.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017


Here is an excellent piece from Lawrie Mcfarlane of The Province newspaper published the other day and sent to us by our good friends Mark Steinkampf and Al Arsenault of the Odd Squad.