Yesterday during a live radio interview @zackhewitt asked me something no journalist has before – if I was sad about the situation we are facing for harm reduction in Calgary. This was a tipping point for me – my voice broke and the tears flowed.
As I said: My tears are nothing. They’re really not enough. They’re just an expression of how frustrated I am. What I feel is nothing compared to the grief of people I know whose loved ones have died. And the peers who are doing the work of keeping people alive, day in and day out.
I wish I had more hope. Right now I just don’t.
— Rebecca’s tweets aren’t confrontational. (@RebeccaSaah) July 11, 2019
Listen to the full interview from NewsTalk 770 Calgary here:
Alberta opioid deaths drop in first months of 2019
The latest statistics on overdose deaths from the first quarter of 2019 were released last week by Alberta Health and they show that the numbers of overdose deaths are declining for the second consecutive quarter. In this clip Ryan and I discuss what this means and why I believe that it is so important that we continue to scale up harm reduction interventions to address this public health emergency.
I spoke to Solomon Israel of the The Leaf Cannabis News (Winnipeg Free Press) about the new labels for cannabis products that will take effect when edibles become legal on October 17, 2019.
I have a lot of interest in this topic, as along with my colleagues I have written about the potentially stigmatizing effects of graphic health warning labels on tobacco products, as well as ethnographic research we carried out with people in Vancouver who told us these warnings have little impact in their smoking behaviors or intentions to quit.
It was a really exciting day for my team to be a part of the announcement of the most recent round of Cannabis Catalyst Grants from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. We worked really hard on this one and had to persevere through some brutal general funding competitions where we didn’t get selected for funding. It can be a divisive issue in our research community, but I feel strongly that these targeted, special competitions are key to getting work that is outside of the ‘mainstream’ and somewhat controversial funded. I also believe that given our emphasis on harm reduction our grant, Developing Cannabis Education and Harm Reduction Messages with Youth: A qualitative youth engagement research project (TRACE V) would not have been funded in the prohibition context.
Here is an abstract of the work that we will be doing in this project:
As Canada readies to legalize cannabis youth have been identified as a priority population for cannabis education. While there is a high prevalence of cannabis use among Canadian adolescents in general, problematic substance use is higher for groups experiencing health and social inequities – or the uneven distribution of health and well-being – that is linked to living with conditions such poverty, trauma, and racialization. As such, there is an urgent need to engage youth who are marginalized as a result of these inequities, to ensure that resources resonate with and reach those who may need them the most. Building on our history of youth cannabis research the purpose of this study is to engage with youth who have used cannabis to find out how they perceive the potential risks and the strategies that resonate with them for reducing harms. Our study will make a unique and needed contribution to cannabis education in Canada, where the experiences of youth who are marginalized have been notably absent. Through an approach that includes youth as co-developers of harm reduction messages, we will ensure that youth voices are at the center in at this pivotal moment in Canadian cannabis education and public health messaging.
Team: R Haines-Saah, E Jenkins, P Ponic, B Gladstone, K London-Nadeau, R McNeil, T Mudry, C Richardson, J Valleriani & T WIld