Page last updated June 9, 2020 by Doug McVay, Editor/Senior Policy Analyst.

11. Success of Overdose Prevention Sites In Response to a Public Health Emergency

"The rapid implementation of OPSs [Overdose Prevention Sites] in the province of British Columbia, Canada during a public health emergency provides an international example of an alternative to drawn-out, cumbersome sanctioning processes for SCSs [Supervised Consumption Services]. Unsanctioned SCSs provide alternative evidence to inform the implementation of SCSs that are more inclusive and responsive to PWUD [People Who Use Drugs]. Our research adds to this evidence. In particular, we found evidence that shifts in the outer context facilitated rapid implementation of a more user focused and driven intervention. We found innovation and inclusionary practices that typically define unsanctioned sites were possible within state-sanctioned OPSs. Community-driven processes of implementation involve centering PWUD in service design, implementation and delivery. Overdose prevention sites provide an example of a novel service design and nimble implementation process that combines the benefits of state-sanctioned service and community-driven implementation. As described by those individuals implementing the services, OPSs effectively provide supervised injection services and overdose responses while addressing many of the documented limitations of existing sanctioned SCSs implementation processes and resultant service designs. However, OPSs lack permanency and ongoing funding due to enactment under a Ministerial Order that is limited to the duration of the public health emergency. Specific attention needs to be paid to the development maintenance of OPSs as primary points of contact and entry into the health system and as part of an ongoing system of substance use services."

Bruce Wallace, Flora Pagan, Bernadette (Bernie) Pauly, The implementation of overdose prevention sites as a novel and nimble response during an illegal drug overdose public health emergency, International Journal of Drug Policy, Volume 66, 2019, Pages 64-72, ISSN 0955-3959.

12. Number of Medical Marijuana Users in Canada

"Among those who used cannabis, 17.7% (representing about 420,000 Canadians or 1.6% of the Canadian population aged 15 years and older) reported doing so for medical purposes. Prevalence of use for medical purposes was similar between male and female cannabis users (17.3% versus 18.4%, respectively), while more than one in five (21.8%) cannabis users aged 25 years and older reported using it for medical purposes, representing 1.5% of all adults in this age group. The percentage of youth who used cannabis for medical purposes is not reportable.
"Half (49.7%) of those who used cannabis for medical purposes did so mainly for chronic pain caused by conditions such as arthritis, back pain and migraines, while the remaining 50.3% used cannabis primarily for one of a variety of conditions that included insomnia, depression and anxiety. These numbers do not in any way measure or reflect enrolment in the federal Medical Marijuana Access Program."

Canadian Alcohol and Drug Use Monitoring Survey (CADUMS) Summary of Results for 2011 (online only), last accessed Dec. 12, 2012.

13. Prevalence of Alcohol Use in Canada, 2012

"In 2012, 78.4% of Canadians reported drinking alcohol in the past year, a rate similar to that reported in 2011 (78.0%). There was, however, a decrease in past-year alcohol use among youth 15 to 24 years of age compared to CAS in 2004, from 82.9% to 70.0% in 2012. Similar to previous years, in 2012, a higher percentage of males than females reported past-year alcohol use (82.7% versus 74.4%, respectively) while the prevalence of past-year drinking among adults aged 25 years and older (80.0%) was higher than among youth (70.0%).
"Provincial rates of current drinking ranged from 72.3% in Nova Scotia to 82.1% in Quebec. Each province’s past-year alcohol prevalence was compared with the average for the nine remaining provinces. Three provinces had lower than average prevalence (Nova Scotia, New Brunswick (73.8%) and Prince Edward Island (74.0%)) while the prevalence of past-year alcohol use in Quebec was higher than average. Prevalence of past-year alcohol use since 2011 was unchanged for all provinces."

Health Canada, "Canadian Alcohol and Drug Use Monitoring Survey (CADUMS) Summary of Results for 2012" (Ottawa, Ontario: Controlled Substances and Tobacco Directorate, Health Canada, June 2013), pp. 5-6.

14. Cannabis Arrests in Canada 2012

Crime, Courts, and Prison

"Unlike the Criminal Code violations discussed in previous sections, drug-related offences in Canada fall under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. In 2012, police reported more than 109,000 drug-related incidents, representing a rate of 314 incidents per 100,000 population (Table 6).
"Overall, fewer drug-related incidents were reported in 2012 than in 2011. The decline was due primarily to a decrease in cannabis-related incidents, which accounted for two-thirds of all drug-related incidents reported by police (Chart 14). In contrast, nearly all types of other drug offences increased. The largest increase in police-reported drug offences in 2012 was in cocaine possession (+5%), although over the previous 10-year period, the rate of possession of drugs other than cannabis and cocaine rose most, up 89%.
"British Columbia, which was the province reporting the highest overall rate of drug offences in recent years, had about 2,000 fewer cannabis-related incidents in 2012. On the other hand, the rate of cocaine-related offences in Saskatchewan has more than doubled over the past two years. As a result, Saskatchewan had the highest overall rate of police-reported drug offences in 2012, followed by British Columbia.
"Nevertheless, British Columbia continued to report the highest rates for some specific drugs, such as cannabis, heroin and ecstasy offences. It also had the second highest rate of methamphetamine (crystal meth) incidents, behind Quebec, but well above the other provinces. Overall, rates of drug-related offences were generally higher in the territories than in the provinces (Table 7)."

Samuel Perreault, "Police-reported crime statistics in Canada, 2012," Juristat (Ottawa, Ontario, Canada: Statistics Canada, July 25, 2013), catalogue no. 85-002-X, ISSN 1209-6393, p. 18.

15. Police Seizures of Cannabis in Canada 2009

"In 2009, Canadian law enforcement seized a total of 34,391 kilograms (kg) of marihuana and 1,845,734 marihuana plants. These figures, which have remained relatively unchanged from 2008 and coupled with steady street prices in 2009, indicated an apparently stable marihuana market. As in 2008, the majority of marihuana seized was domestically produced, yet the drug continued to be imported from Jamaica, the United States, the Netherlands, and Thailand."

RCMP Criminal Intelligence, "Report on the Illicit Drug Situation in Canada - 2009," Royal Canadian Mounted Police (Ottawa, Ontario: 2010), p. 16.

16. Sources of Marijuana in Canada

"The amount of marihuana produced in Canada exceeded domestic demand. Reportedly, there were OC [Organized Crime] groups producing this drug specifically for export to foreign markets, the largest of which is the United States. According to the U.S. National Drug Intelligence Center (NDIC), while seizures of Canadian marihuana have declined13 at the Canada-U.S. border, Canada continued to be a source country for high-grade marihuana destined for U.S. illicit drug markets.v The reported decline was believed to be due, in part, to Canadian-based Asian OC groups using their expertise to establish cannabis cultivation sites within the United States, thereby avoiding the cost of transporting drugs across the border and the risk of detection.
"Shipments of marihuana destined for Canada were smuggled through air cargo or passenger flights, and arrived primarily at Toronto Pearson International Airport. Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) reported the seizure of approximately 1.15 tonnes of marihuana in 2009, with 60 percent of the total originating from Jamaica. Jamaican marihuana was primarily supplying a small market in Ontario and Quebec."

RCMP Criminal Intelligence, "Report on the Illicit Drug Situation in Canada - 2009," Royal Canadian Mounted Police (Ottawa, Ontario: 2010), p. 17.

17. Ecstasy Production in Canada, 2009

"In 2009, an abundant supply of Canadian-produced MDMA continued to meet domestic consumption requirements, as well as provide significant quantities for international markets.40 Domestic prices for MDMA remained at the record low levels from 2008, while purity levels of the drug remained high, or even may have increased. The nature or extent of MDMA production in Canada appeared to be unaffected by the significant shortage in the supply of MDP2P, that reportedly impacted European markets. In Europe, the shortage resulted in a decline in Ecstasy seizures and in the number of seizures of laboratories, storage, and dump sites related to large-scale MDMA production.
"Cross-border MDMA smuggling from Canada to the United States, the primary foreign market for Canadian-produced MDMA, significantly increased from 2008. As in previous years, smuggling activity at or between ports of entry (POEs) was reported in the provinces of British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec.41 For example, a record amount of 2.6 million dosage unit equivalents confirmed as MDMA were seized in the Pacific region in 2009. However, there was also smuggling activity across the Canada-U.S. border in other provinces, such as Manitoba.42"

RCMP Criminal Intelligence, "Report on the Illicit Drug Situation in Canada - 2009," Royal Canadian Mounted Police (Ottawa, Ontario: 2010), p. 32.

18. Prevalence of Injection Drug Use in Canada

Problem Drug Use and Its Correlates

"The number of Canadians reporting use of an injectable drug at some point in their life increased from 1.7 million in 1994 (7.4% overall: 10% of males, 4.9% of females) to a little more than 4.1 million in 2004 (16.1% overall: 20.8% males, 11.7% females). Of those who used an injectable drug at least once in their life-time, 7.7% (132,000) reported past-year use by injection in 1994 compared with 6.5% (269,000) in 2004. The numbers of individuals having used drugs by injection in the past year are too small to allow any analysis."

"Canadian Addiction Survey: A National Survey of Canadians' Use of Alcohol and Other Drugs: Prevalence of Use and Related Harms," Canadian Executive Council on Addictions, Health Canada, March 2005, p. 91.

19. Sharing of Injection Equipment in Canadian Prisons

"Seventeen percent (17%) of inmates reported recently injecting drugs. A substantial proportion of these inmates increased their risk of acquiring a blood-borne infection (BBI) by using someone else’s used injecting equipment (see Table 4 for gender-specific estimates). Of those who recently injected drugs, 37% of inmates reported sharing a needle with a person with a positive or unknown BBI status and 42% reported using someone else’s works after they had used them. Additionally, men were more likely than women to report using someone else’s used needle, 55% vs. 41%, ?2 (1, n=438) = 6.22, p < 0.05 and sharing works with a person with a positive or unknown BBI status, 33% vs. 23%, ?2 (1, n=397) = 4.40, p < 0.05."

Thompson, Jennie, Zakaria, Dianne, and Jarvis, Ashley, "Use of bleach and the methadone maintenance treatment program as harm reduction measures in Canadian Penitentiaries 2010," Correctional Service of Canada, Research Report R-210, August 2010.

20. Injection Drug Use in Prisons

"Infectious disease management can be a challenge in correctional settings due to the high rates of BBIs, and risky behaviours such as injection drug use (IDU), tattooing and piercing among people entering the correctional system (PHAC, 2008b). While jurisdictions prohibit IDU, tattooing and piercing within their facilities some inmates continue to engage in these activities with escalated risk of infection due to the need to share equipment. For example, among Canadian studies, the reported level of IDU ranges from 5% to 28% in federal institutions and 1% to 8% in provincial correctional centres (Alary, Godin & Lambert, 2005; Calzavara & Burchell, 1999; Calzavara et al., 2003; Calzavara, Myers, Millson, Schlossbert, & Burchell, 1997; Dufour et al., 1996; Ford, 1999; Ford et al., 2000; Martin, Gold & Murphy, 2005; PASAN, 2003; Poulin et al., 2007; Price Waterhouse, 1996; Rehman, 2004; Small et al., 2005). These rates are higher when capturing ever injecting in prison (8% to 28%) compared to shorter periods of time such as the past 12 months (1% to 11%)."

Thompson, Jennie, Zakaria, Dianne, and Jarvis, Ashley, "Use of bleach and the methadone maintenance treatment program as harm reduction measures in Canadian Penitentiaries 2010," Correctional Service of Canada, Research Report R-210, August 2010.