Better pharmacare for all Canadians will be difficult to achieve without the federal government at the table. The government of Canada could lead on this issue in a way that no single province or territory can do, by supporting the development of a single national list of drugs to be covered for all Canadians and by harnessing the purchasing power of the whole nation to get the best possible bang for our buck.
A 2013 EKOS poll showed that 78 per cent of Canadians are in favour of establishing a universal pharmacare program in Canada. In spite of self-serving lobby groups who insist that the current system is working well and should not be reformed, establishing a national drug plan is the best thing to do for patients, for employers, for employees, for taxpayers, and for the Canadian economy.
Ask any avid drug user the difference between 'molly' and 'ecstasy' and they will most likely tell you that 'molly is pure MDMA' and ecstasy was more known to be cut with other substances. In reality, this couldn't be further from the truth. And herein lies the problem. Unless you are an accomplished chemist, 'pure' MDMA is a myth.
Well, we've been having some interesting family discussions over dinner recently. Topics have included: marijuana, driver reaction time after consuming alcohol, how nicotine stains your fingers; the intense pain caused by Tasering; bras and body hair. One night, we even examined diagrams of male and female reproductive organs.
People sure love their drugs. There are high costs, however, for this international appetite for drugs. And it's usually the poor and disenfranchised who pay these costs. The cost of the global appetite for drugs is high and the burden is disproportionately felt by the poor. It's the man who passes out in front of my apartment on a weekly basis. It's the victims of beheadings in Mexico. It's the families left impoverished while a small, violent elite makes millions. Drugs aren't cool. Or edgy. This is supply and demand at its most brutal and the poor are the ones paying the price.
Kerrisdale residents Ray and Nichola Hall know too well the tragic outcomes of easily accessible illicit drugs. Both their sons, now in their mid 30s, were addicted to heroin and other drugs. They were raised in one of Vancouver's most-exclusive neighbourhoods, proving that the drug trade and addiction have no boundaries.
How could we help him feel better about himself so he does a better job for our city? As hard as it may be for some of us to swallow, we could try to lose the blame and the judgement and throw him some slack. Why? When people treat us well, the better we feel, and the better we feel, the better we behave.
To preface this story, I have to admit that my relationship with porn has always been a dishonest one. If I was to watch it on the Internet, I streamed it. I have never bought a DVD or subscribed to a website nor financially contributed to the industry in anyway, only stolen from it. Then, one day, porn got me back. Someone on Twitter sent me a link to a porno that used our song. Art-rock is a tricky thing. It's precious. People talk about it like fine art or good wine. It's pretentious, it's serious and not for porn. So the implication was that I should be immediately up in arms. My art was stolen and slapped over some smut film. How dare they defile something I labored over?
It beats me why so many American conservatives have smartened up about when it makes sense to send people to jail when Canadian conservatives -- at least the ones who count -- clearly haven't. The average cost of keeping a Canadian in prison for a year is more than $113,000, which is money well spent for violent offenders. But why spend it locking up minor drug offenders? Why are we hell-bent on this backwards way of thinking?
As part of their struggle with budget realities and the growing cost of health care, Canada's provinces continue to work on bulk purchasing agreements for pharmaceuticals as a way to save money. Unfortunately, the recent release from the Council of the Federation (the council of Canada's premiers) suffers from the typical one-sided approach that characterizes much of the drug policy discussion. Yes, there are up front savings to be had. But there's no such thing as a free lunch.