An East Oakland church that gives out cannabis and psychedelic plants as sacrament filed a civil rights lawsuit against the city of Oakland and the Oakland Police Department over a 2020 police raid. The Zide Door Church of Entheogenic Plants, an assembly of the Church of Ambrosia alleges that the city, Police Department and a police officer violated its 1st and 14th amendment rights and that the city’s land use code prohibits the group from conducting religious ceremonies and sacraments involving psychedelics and cannabis inside the church.
Conservative Party leader Pierre Poilievre misdiagnoses the opioid crisis in the latest video, “Everything Feels Broken.”
In the five-minute video, Poilievre uses a Vancouver tent city as his backdrop to make a case for the drug war.
For a decade, British Columbia (among other Canadian cities) has provided a clean, safe supply of drugs for the addicted.
He calls it a “failed experiment” brought in by “woke Liberal and NDP governments,” before saying he’ll end this policy and instead put taxpayers’ money into recovery and treatment.
The narrative is easy to follow: there is a correlation between safe supply sites and opioid deaths. Ergo, one caused the other.
Unfortunately, data doesn’t support this narrative. Nor does the data support Poilievre’s claim that Alberta‘s anti-drug policy has worked better.
(In fact, how Alberta deals with opioids isn’t all that different from the rest of the country, including having safe supply sites in Edmonton and Calgary).
But if you want to critique Poilievre’s video, there are plenty of articles on this topic.
Most critics, however, defend safe supply sites, claim compassion for addicts, and, far from engaging with Poilievre on his ideas, merely parrot federal Addictions Minister Carolyn Bennett by calling the video “irresponsible” and “misguided.”
Pierre Poilievre is wrong about the cause of drug overdose deaths in Canada. And, like his critics, he’s also wrong about throwing money at “treatment and recovery.”
Just as his critics are wrong that taxpayer-funded “safe supply” is the way out of the crisis.
How Poilievre (And his Critics) Misdiagnose the Opioid Crisis
When Poilievre misdiagnoses the opioid crisis, it comes from a place of politics. His goal is to acquire Justin Trudeau’s PMO power, which has significantly increased since the Harper years.
Especially since a decade of “safe supply” hasn’t produced immediate results.
Now, critics are right to point out that, in B.C., over 80% of overdoses don’t occur in the street but in a private residence or shelter. The problem is less about homeless people dying in the streets than the toxicity of street drugs.
That’s why safe supply sites work, say the supporters.
And Poilievre isn’t opposed to using taxpayer money to fund treatment policies. He disagrees with the means.
But in a discussion about Poilievre’s “Everything Feels Broken” video, almost no one has mentioned the elephant in the room: the corporate pharmaceutical conglomerates.
They caused the opioid crisis and profit from supplying methadone and Suboxone to safe supply sites.
Poilievre critics would be wise to stop with the surface-level attacks and get to the core of the issue. And Poilievre’s supporters would be wise to question their leader’s motives and proposed solutions.
If you want a villain, look no further than McKinsey & Company.
How McKinsey & Company Caused the Opioid Crisis
McKinsey & Company is a global management consulting firm. They’ve been around since the 1920s and are considered one of the “Big Three” consulting agencies worldwide.
They’ve also been involved in many controversies, from Enron, the ’08 financial crisis, insider trading, conflicts of interest, and associations with murderous dictators, including Saudi Arabia.
So it shouldn’t be a surprise they’ve played a role in the opioid epidemic.
McKinsey & Company wanted to “turbocharge” Oxycontin sales. They proposed strategies to combat the messages from real parents who lost their children to Oxy overdoses.
They also advised opioid makers on how to circumvent government regulations.
They’re the type of firm to crunch the numbers and figure out that it’s cheaper to pay $36.8 million to the families who’ve lost someone from an overdose than to stop selling the toxic crap.
In 2018/19, McKinsey & Company collected over $400 million by consulting pharmaceutical companies.
McKinsey’s services turned Endo from a small generic opioid manufacturer to one of the world’s largest opioid businesses.
McKinsey also recommended targeting and influencing doctors. They wanted elderly and long-term care patients hooked on opioids.
They’re staffed by a revolving door of consultants who either come from (or go on to work for) government regulators like the FDA and pharmaceutical clients like Purdue.
Purdue Pharma went into bankruptcy and had to pay a multi-billion-dollar settlement because it “intentionally conspired and agreed with others to aid and abet” the over-prescribing of painkillers “without a legitimate medical purpose.”
The idiom “the fox is guarding the henhouse,” has never been more relevant.
Poilievre spends five minutes criticizing his political opponents instead of the corporate-state cartel that has brought us to this point. That’s when you know Poilievre is misdiagnosing the opioid crisis.
Poilievre Misdiagnoses Opioid Crisis
While Poilievre misdiagnoses the opioid crisis, he does mention in passing the doctors who “prescribed and over-prescribed,” opioids.
For someone who goes on about gatekeepers, you’d think Poilievre could put two and two together. Yet, this was far as he went with that line of criticism.
If Poilievre wants to go after Justin Trudeau, why not point out that our blackface PM made a McKinsey crony (Dominic Barton) Canada’s ambassador to China in 2019?
(Although, in Justin’s defence, you could argue that dealing with a murderous regime that doesn’t believe in the sanctity of human life requires an ambassador who feels the same way).
Like most of Poilievre’s critiques of government, he misdiagnoses the opioid crisis by not going deeper into the issue and pointing fingers at his political opposition instead of the merging of corporate and state power.
And why would he?
Like Liberal and NDP governments, Conservatives adhere to lobbying concerns more than their constituents.
And when constituents get rowdy, like organizing an occupation in the nation’s capital, the corporate press is there to propagate a narrative that fools the masses and protects the financial interests of the elite.
That’s where critics on both sides fail to grasp the nature of the opioid crisis. Not only did pharmaceutical corporations cause this crisis (with help from the state), but they also profit from the proposed “solutions,” including safe supply.
So what’s the answer?
How Poilievre Can Reverse His Misdiagnoses of the Opioid Crisis
In his “Everything feels broken” video, where Poilievre misdiagnoses the opioid crisis, he proposes statist solutions like toughening security at the border to keep illegal drugs out of the country.
That’s obviously unrealistic. You’d have to claim complete ignorance of the global fentanyl trade to believe “strengthening the border” would work.
Further, Poilievre says, “There is no safe supply of these drugs.”
Indicating that even if we rid the country of killer opioids like fentanyl and carfentanyl, we’d still have a drug problem.
As if the mere existence of an opioid is enough to justify the drug war.
You won’t find the correct solution from Poilievre’s brand of quasi-libertarian politics. And you won’t find an answer from the various left-wing parties who have never found a problem more government spending couldn’t fix.
Politicians know who butters their bread. Additionally, cultural norms and attitudes about drugs shape our thinking.
But no matter how you slice it: no one has a right to your body except you.
Taken to its logical conclusion, someone throwing you in a cage for consuming opioids is an aggressor and a tyrant.
Meaning, the solution to Canada’s opioid crisis is to legalize heroin.
Legalizing “Hard” Drugs
Is there a difference between “hard” drugs like heroin and “soft” drugs like cannabis? Is one more addictive than the other? What about alcohol? Is that a “hard” or “soft” drug?
Perhaps the distinction itself is arbitrary.
Some drugs are more dangerous than others. Just as riding a motorcycle is more dangerous than driving a car.
Too much of our conversation surrounding drugs, especially opioids, is wrapped up in language about “losing control” and “involuntarily behaviour.”
But this narrative is entirely false. Just as there are responsible cannabis consumers, there are responsible opioid consumers.
Problems arise when people behave according to the ideas they have about drugs. No one is living on the street and committing crimes to get their hands on refined sugar.
But if you limit the supply of the sweet stuff, I can guarantee you societal chaos is around the corner.
A refined sugar prohibition would incentive an illegal supply of sugar. And cutting that white powder with non-sugar is a sketchy but efficient way to boost profits.
Would the solution be to put sugar addicts into rehab centres where they lose whatever autonomy they have left?
Or would the solution be to set up clinics where the people jonesing the hardest could go for a safe supply?
Or is the solution legalizing all sugar and letting individuals decide what is best for them?
Poilievre misdiagnoses opioid crisis. But so do his critics. The answer is obvious. It’s only drug war propaganda that keeps us from seeing it.
For years, both experience and research have indicated that CBD has a mitigating effect when consumed with THC.
For example, budtenders suggest a THC-strain balanced with CBD for new consumers to avoid overwhelming them.
When an experienced stoner has eaten an edible or taken some oil and feels too high – they use CBD to take the edge off.
But a recent study suggests this is all placebo.
How Could CBD Modulate THC?
More extensive studies will conclusively determine if CBD modulates THC. But for now, we’ll have to rely on conflicting research and anecdotal experiences.
CBD and THC have drastically different effects. THC stands for tetrahydrocannabinol, the most famous of all cannabis compounds. THC binds to our cannabinoid receptors to produce the “high” feeling.
CBD, on the other hand, doesn’t directly bind to our cannabinoid receptors. It is more like a psychedelic in that it targets the serotonin 5-HT1A receptors, which we find primarily in our stomach.
CBD also prolongs the life span of our endogenous cannabinoids: anandamide (AEA) and 2-arachidonoylglyerol (2-AG).
These endogenous cannabinoids bind to our cannabinoid receptors. Researchers figure that because CBD inhibits the breakdown of anandamide in the cannabinoid one receptor, THC can’t fully bind and thus has a muted effect.
Research performed under double-blind, placebo-controlled conditions suggested CBD can reduce the unpleasant effects of THC.
Other research disputes this. But what about this new study?
Does CBD Modulate THC? No, Says Study
According to the latest study no, CBD does not modulate the effects of THC. Published in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology, this randomized, double-blind cross-over trial was thorough.
Researchers recruited 46 healthy volunteers ranging from 21 to 50 years old. They’d used cannabis before but not more than once per week during the previous year. Researchers asked them to inhale cannabis vapour containing 10mg of THC combined with different levels of CBD.
So per experiment, they consumed a 10:0 ratio, then a balanced 10:10 ratio, followed by 10:20, and then 10:30. In other words, by the last experiment, participants were inhaling more CBD per milligram than THC.
After each experiment, the researchers asked the participants to complete a set of tasks. Researchers measured “psychotic symptoms,” including “cognitive, subjective, pleasurable, pharmacological and physiological effects.”
For example, THC is associated with delayed verbal recall. The study said CBD did not improve those scores.
The study concludes, “There was no evidence of CBD modulating the effects of THC on other cognitive, psychotic, subjective, pleasurable, and physiological measures.”
Even going further to suggest, “This should be considered in health policy and safety decisions about medicinal and recreational cannabis.”
Yet, did this study conclusively determine these results? Even the authors admit their research can only go so far without a placebo-controlled group.
To suggest that “no evidence that CBD protects against the acute adverse effects of cannabis,” while other double-blind clinical trials have shown otherwise, indicates more to the story.
Building a CBD Tolerance
This latest study suggested that CBD does not modulate the effects of THC in the short term. But what about the long term?
Cannabis connoisseurs know about tolerance. If you smoke weed daily, you build up a tolerance to THC. You can take a few days off and let your cannabinoid receptors reset. When you return to the herb, you’ll feel the effects more with less.
CBD might work the opposite way. It may promote receptor sensitivity, meaning you need less over time.
CBD may also reestablish homeostatic levels (bringing balance to your endocannabinoid system). So while it may give the impression it’s not doing anything, CBD is working with your system without producing the “psychotic symptoms,” of THC.
At least one study suggests the longer you use CBD, the lower dosages you’ll need. Which is another way of saying: you need to build up some CBD in your system before it can work.
With that in mind, how accurate was this new study? A short-term look at people inhaling THC-CBD vapour after a year of virtually no consumption?
And no placebo-controlled group, to boot.
Yet, these researchers want their inconclusive opinions “considered in health policy and safety decisions” about cannabis.
The Problem With the “CBD Doesn’t Modulate THC” Study
Of course, the apparent problem with this “CBD doesn’t modulate THC” study is its short-term aspect, the lack of a placebo group, and the cannabis delivery method.
Cannabis is a complex plant, and if you consume THC or CBD through edibles, the body will process the cannabinoids differently.
Same for plant extracts. Were the volunteers of this study taking THC and CBD isolates in vape format? Or were these full-spectrum products containing other cannabinoids like CBG and CBN?
What would result if a participant ate 10mg of CBD edibles for two weeks straight and then smoked a one-gram joint with 25% THC? And what if we paired them with a participant who didn’t consume CBD two weeks prior?
This is why more research is needed before inconclusive results should be “considered” in government policy.
But the big problem with the “CBD doesn’t modulate THC” study comes down to bias.
The study says, “Cannabis users may reduce harms when using a higher CBD:THC ratio, due to the reduced THC exposure rather than the presence of CBD.”
Throughout the paper, the researchers engage in a priori extremism by labelling THC “harmful” without further discussion. It’s one of the biases built into the study. And we saw it earlier by referring to THC’s effects as “psychotic symptoms.”
But what evidence links cannabis, particularly the effects of THC, to “psychotic symptoms?”
When we consume THC, we don’t become “psychotic.” We get high. We become stoned. The fact that they didn’t use a neutral, scientific term to describe THC’s effects brings the entire paper into question.
Not to mention, English and Australian universities funded this study. Two countries not exactly known for their legal recreational cannabis markets. (Even their medical program is strictly controlled and absurdly risk-averse).
Furthermore, we have conclusive, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies that prove that CBD reduces anxiety. And since higher concentrations of THC cause anxiety in some people, it’s no surprise we have past studies indicating that CBD modulates the effects of THC.
What Did This Study Prove?
The problem with this “CBD doesn’t modulate THC” study is its bias and limited scope. They created a category of “psychotic symptoms.” Then they tested this theory on a small group of participants in the short term without any placebo-controlled group.
It may be that CBD isn’t the modulating agent we think it is. Further studies may validate the conclusions of this study.
But further research is needed. Governments destroyed nutrition science in the 20th century by accepting half-baked theories and biased research as proven facts.
With cannabis legalization sweeping the world, we cannot allow the same thing to happen to cannabinoid-based therapies.
Specifically, they won awards for their “Roll with us” marketing campaign and “Does your bank deliver,” which compared choosing their services with choosing toppings for your pizza.
A win for the Community Savings Credit Union is a win for cannabis in Canada. With traditional banks charging fees 5000% higher for cannabis-related businesses, this is where it helps to have a cannabis credit union in your corner.
Why the Banks Don’t Like Cannabis
President and CEO of Community Savings, Mike Schilling, said:
“There is a serious side to our campaigns that have fun with cannabis culture. We meet too many businesses in the industry that are being exploited and paying up to 5000% more than they should for a simple account. We treat cannabis retailers like any other small business, with best-in-class service and products.
“This campaign isn’t only about the cannabis industry – it is about equal access to fair and affordable banking services. Community Savings will continue to advocate for what is right and what is fair, and supporting the cannabis industry is just the beginning.”
But why don’t the big banks like cannabis? Don’t they like money? If they see a cannabis credit union, don’t they say to themselves, “hey, we want some of that!”
According to Mike, the reason they don’t is due to stigma. For many of the suits on Bay Street, cannabis is still the domain of biker gangs.
Banks see cannabis as a higher risk, often making the comparison to alcohol. But breweries and distilleries don’t face the same kind of stigma cannabis does. A fairer comparison would be how banks deal with casinos.
And if you do manage to get a cannabis-related bank account, expect to pay fees upward of $500 per month compared to $50 per month (the average cost of a corporate account).
Until banks come to their senses, Canada’s cannabis industry must rely on credit unions.
Canada’s Cannabis Credit Union
Banking is fundamental to business. While credit unions like Community Savings Credit Union have stepped up, overall, there is a limit to what a credit union can do for your business.
That said, the awards won by the Community Savings Credit Union highlight that there is money to be made in helping out cannabis producers and retailers.
Large banks would be wise to treat the legal cannabis industry like any other legal sector. Or perhaps, especially after freezing the bank accounts of people peacefully protesting in Ottawa, the rest of us should be getting out of traditional banking and patronizing credit unions instead.