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

41. Perception of Seriousness of Substance Abuse Problems

"Our analyses suggest that public perceptions of the relative seriousness of substance abuse problems are incongruent with the actual costs they impose on Canadian society. In particular, the total social costs associated with alcohol are more than twice those for all other illicit drugs in 2002, yet the public consistently rated the overall seriousness of illicit drugs as higher at the national, provincial and local levels in the Canadian Addiction Survey (2004). Interpreting these findings it is possible to suggest that perceptions of the seriousness of illicit drugs are relatively amplified while perceptions of the seriousness of problems associated with alcohol are relatively attenuated in Canadian society."

Thomas, Gerald and Davis, Christopher G., Comparing the Perceived Seriousness and Actual Costs of Substance Abuse in Canada: Analysis drawn from the 2004 Canadian Addiction Survey," Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse (Ottawa, ON: Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse, March 2007), p. 4.

42. Cannabis in Canada

"1. The severity of punishment for a cannabis possession charge should be reduced. Specifically, cannabis possession should be converted to a civil violation under the Contraventions Act.
"The current law involves considerable enforcement and other criminal justice costs, as well as adverse consequences to individual drug offenders, with little evidence of a substantial deterrent impact on cannabis use, and at best marginal benefits to the public health and safety of Canadians. As a minimal measure, jail should be removed as a sentencing option for cannabis possession. The available evidence indicates that removal of jail as a sentencing option would lead to considerable cost savings without leading to increases in rates of cannabis use. Punishing cannabis possession with a fine only would be consistent with current practices and prevailing public opinion."

Single, Eric, "Cannabis Control in Canada: Options Regarding Possession" National Working Group on Addictions Policy (Ottawa, Canada: Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse, May 1998).

43. Medical Marijuana

The Canadian government in 2001 established regulations to expand the use of marijuana as a medicine. According to an editorial in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, "The new regulations promise more transparency in the review of applications to grow or possess medicinal marijuana, a broader definition of medical necessity, and greater latitude for physicians in determining the needs of individual patients."

"Marijuana: federal smoke clears, a little," Canadian Medical Association Journal, Vol. 164, No. 10, May 15, 2001, p. 1397.

44. Prison-Based Methadone Maintenance Programs

"Ensuring that offenders have access to interventions that address their substance abuse issues allows the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) to support the safe reintegration of offenders into society. The treatment needs of offenders with opioid dependence are met through CSC’s Methadone Maintenance Treatment (MMT) Program.1
Some of the objectives of CSC’s MMT program include reducing relapse to opioid drug use and the incidence of drug-related criminal activity; improving the offender’s general health and quality of life; and assisting and motivating offenders to gradually desist from all illicit drug use."

Johnson, S., Farrell MacDonald, S., & Cheverie, M. (2011). Research at a Glance: Characteristics of participants in the Methadone Maintenance Treatment (MMT) Program. Research Report R253. Ottawa, Ontario: Correctional Service Canada. Last accessed on the web Dec. 12, 2012.

45. Seizure of Children from Drug Producing Homes

"In 2006, the province of Alberta passed the Drug Endangered Child Act,17 which authorized the state (child welfare authorities or the police) to seize children from drugproducing homes, even if based on suspicion alone.18 Often these children, and even the parents, might not know about the drugs. More troubling is that there may not even be illicit substances present, but rather the chemicals used to create such substances, and this may be deemed sufficient for apprehension of the children. To add to the equation, the Motherisk Laboratory at the Hospital for Sick Children receives hair samples to be analyzed for drugs of abuse from thousands of parents implicated in child-protection matters each year from across the country, and they are analyzed for drugs of abuse. Based on consultations with child protection workers or the respective authorities, children are rarely removed from drug-using parents’ care until substantial evidence of child safety issues is built. Among our cohort of children presented here, however, the majority of the parents were not known to be using illicit substances themselves and, on the basis of our clinical assessments, appear to be able to parent their children adequately. It is not likely that the production of drugs, particularly marijuana, hinders effective parenting much more than actual drug use, yet the differences in the ways these cases are handled suggest that police and child protection agencies perceive the former to be of greater concern with respect to child safety than the latter."

Moller, Monique; Koren, Gideon; Karaskov, Tatyana; and Garcia-Bournissen, Facundo, "Examining the Health and Drug Exposures among Canadian Children Residing in Drug-Producing Homes," The Journal of Pediatrics (Cincinnati, OH: July 2011), p. 4.

46. Canada/United States Border Enforcement Cooperation

"Through successful binational fora such as the Cross-Border Crime Forum (CBCF) and Project North Star, the United States and Canada have increased intelligence-sharing and joint training opportunities for law enforcement officials. Investigative cooperation has also been expanded, through the establishment of new Integrated Border Enforcement Teams and notable enforcement initiatives such as Operation Sweet Tooth/Project O’Skillet and Operation Triple Play/Project O’Slider. The result: greater success in seizing illicit drugs crossing the U.S.-Canada border and apprehending those that traffic them.
"Despite our best efforts, drug trafficking still occurs in significant quantities in both directions across the border. The principal illicit substances smuggled across our shared border are MDMA (Ecstasy), cocaine, and marijuana."

Government of the United States and the Government of Canada, "United States - Canada Border: Drug Threat Assessment 2007" (March 2008), p. vii.

47. Public Health and Drug Control Policy in Canada

"Public health oriented regulation has much potential to reduce the health, social and fiscal harms associated with all psychoactive substances.
"In addition, public health oriented regulation is supportive of Canadians human rights as established by the pre-eminence of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms 7 i.e. the “right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.” (section 7), “subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society” (section 1)."

"Public Health Perspectives for Regulating Psychoactive Substances: What We Can Do About Alchohol, Tobacco, and Other Drugs," The Health Officers Council of British Columbia (Victoria, British Columbia: November 2011), p. 9.

48. Recommendation by the Canadian Senate's Special Committee on Illegal Drugs

"... the Government of Canada amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act to create a criminal exemption scheme. This legislation should stipulate the conditions for obtaining licenses as well as for producing and selling cannabis; criminal penalties for illegal trafficking and export; and the preservation of criminal penalties for all activities falling outside the scope of the exemption scheme."

"Cannabis: Our Position for a Canadian Public Policy," report of the Canadian Senate Special Committee on Illegal Drugs (Ottawa, Canada: Senate of Canada, September 2002), p. 46.

49. Effect of Implementation of PDMP

"Our analysis showed that the implementation of a province-wide centralized prescription network was associated with large, immediate and sustained reductions in filled prescriptions for opioid analgesics and benzodiazepines deemed inappropriate by our definition. These findings provide empirical evidence that centralized prescription networks can reduce inappropriate prescribing and dispensing of prescriptions by offering health care professionals real-time access to prescription data. Physicians did not have access to PharmaNet when it was first introduced; consequently, the reductions observed in our study likely reflect the availability of real-time prescription information to front-line pharmacists."

Dormuth, Colin R., et al., "Effect of a centralized prescription network on inappropriate prescriptions for opioid analgesics and benzodiazepines," Canadian Medical Association Journal, November 6, 2012, vol. 184, no. 16, DOI:10.1503/cmaj.120465, p. 854.

50. Supervised Consumption Facilities Associated With Reductions in Public Use

"In summary, we documented significant reductions in the number of IDUs injecting in public, publicly discarded syringes and injection-related litter after the opening of the medically supervised safer injecting facility. These reductions appeared to be independent of several potential confounders, and our findings were supported by external data sources. Although the overall health impacts of the facility will take several years to evaluate, the findings from this study should be valuable to other cities that are contemplating similar evaluations and should have substantial relevance to many urban areas where public injection drug use has been associated with substantial public health risks and adverse community impacts."

Wood, Evan, Thomas Kerr, Will Small, Kathy Li, David C. Marsh, Julio S.G. Montaner & Mark W. Tyndall, "Changes in Public Order After the Opening of a Medically Supervised Safer Injecting Facility for Illicit Injection Drug Users," Canadian Medical Association Journal, Vol. 171, No. 7, Sept. 28, 2004, p. 734.