Cannabis is legal. Now what? Also: tapering off opioids, a school for stoners, a new kind of counselling
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Good morning,

If you’re like most Canadians, you drink socially and enjoy a daily hit of caffeine in your morning coffee. About one in five of us smoke tobacco or use cannabis, and a much smaller number of us take mushrooms or LSD.

As a society, we’ve decided that alcohol and tobacco (and now cannabis) should be legal and that mushrooms and LSD should be banned.

Why? Does this decision make sense?

In this issue, Akwasi Owusu-Bempah, a U of T Mississauga sociology professor, argues that our laws don’t really make sense, and, worse, have caused undue social harm; he makes the case for legalizing all recreational drugs. Robert Mann, a professor at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, thinks the health risks of doing so are too great.

Marcia Kaye speaks with Dr. Andrea Furlan and other U of T professors about a common but poorly understood part of the opioid crisis: the huge challenge of weaning some patients off of their prescriptions for painkillers. Tapering use too fast or stopping cold turkey may cause an especially horrendous withdrawal. “Patients say they feel like they’re going to die,” Furlan says.

Scientist Ruth Ross explains why we may be making the same mistake with cannabis that we made with tobacco and opioids, and we uncover the story of a unique school in Hamilton, Ontario, that in the 1970s found a way to engage students who had turned to drugs.

Happy reading,

Scott Anderson
Scott Anderson
Editor, University of Toronto Magazine

Bring a little U of T into your daily life! Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram: @uoftmagazine.

Through the Roof

Why We Need to Press Pause on Any Kind of Cannabis Promotion
Many companies are selling marijuana as if the drug is totally harmless. It’s not. Read more

By Ruth Ross

How Should a City Plan for People with Disabilities?

Flip the Script
While prescribing drugs such as oxycontin is easy, tapering patients off painkillers can be immensely challenging, say U of T doctors. How the medical system is trying to wean people off opioids. Read more

By Marcia Kaye

Master of Fun

In the Event of an Opioid Overdose...
How three U of T engineering students redesigned a naloxone kit to make it easier and faster to use. Read more

By Stacey Gibson

Flip Side
Should Canada Legalize All Drugs?
Yes: The social harms of prosecuting drug users far outweigh any public health benefits from prohibition, says Professor Akwasi Owusu-Bempah. Read more

No: Not many people use cocaine, heroin or meth. Prohibition helps keep it that way, argues Professor Robert Mann. Read more

Master of Fun

Turned Away for Smoking Weed? Not at This School
James Anderson welcomed students who used drugs to a new kind of school. For many, the effects were life-changing. Read more

By Brent Ledger

An Inconvenient Truth

Help Through the Darkness
The wait-lists for publicly funded therapy are long. Kate Scowen devised a way for people to receive low-cost counselling sooner. Read more

By Megan Easton

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