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Sharing the cost of legalized Marijuana

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Very mellow in Atlantic Canada.  mellow.j.jpg.47da47822e61c245d205d67d66088186.jpg Must be the winter weather.

January 23, 2019 11:19 am

Atlantic Canadians buying far more pot than rest of country, sales figures show

140106_cain.jpg?quality=60&strip=all&w=4 By Patrick Cain National Online Journalist, News  Global News .
THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
 

People in Atlantic Canada are buying far more legal cannabis per capita than Canadians elsewhere in the country, Statistics Canada figures show.

The national statistics agency released province-by-province sales numbers for the first six weeks of legalization up to December 1.

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The numbers reveal dramatic differences between provinces. Prince Edward Island tops the list, with residents on average spending $13.83 each on legal pot in six weeks. Nova Scotia came second, at $11.34.

Newfoundland and Labrador and New Brunswick came third and fourth, respectively.

READ MORE: How much weed was sold on Canada’s legalization day, province-by-province

All four Atlantic provinces were well-prepared for legalization and are now reaping the benefits, says cannabis industry expert Deepak Anand.

“A province like New Brunswick came out very early on, and had a very early lead,” he says. “They saw not just recreational legalization but medical legalization coming on board, and they gave the whole cannabis file to their economic development ministry, that worked with companies that were producers to try to set up in the province.

“They were very eager to get ahead.” 

In the rest of the country, Albertans spent $4.53, Ontarians spent $1.54, Quebecers spent $2.53 and British Columbians just 69 cents.

pot_sales_infographic3.jpg?quality=70&st

B.C. is a special case because of its well-established and widely tolerated grey-market dispensaries, Anand says.

“There hasn’t been this aggressive enforcement on existing dispensaries to shut down, though the province has hinted many times that that’s coming.

“In effect, nothing significantly changed in B.C. on October 17, as it did perhaps for the rest of the country,” Anand says.

“There wasn’t that level of enthusiasm in B.C. as we saw in the rest of the country, because cannabis access has been relatively easy in B.C. versus other provinces.”

READ MORE: Alberta’s 5 Nova Cannabis stores raked in $1.3M in first 5 days of legalization

Provinces that had well-developed retail systems open on October 17 brought in much more revenue. Anand says this is because many consumers want in-person advice, and want to be able to see — and smell — the product before they buy.

“There is a desire and an intention, and perhaps a willingness to pay a little bit more to go to a store and talk to a person, versus simply buying something online,” Anand says.

“They want to go and talk to someone and understand all of its properties and understand what it is going to do, even though there is limited information that stores can give. That human interaction is something that people like.”

StatsCan’s cannabis trade figures cover legal recreational sales by bricks-and-mortar stores and online.

Wednesday, P.E.I.’s finance department said that cannabis sales to the end of the year came to $3,509,913, which comes to $23.09 for every islander.

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How a marijuana lollipop caused a heart attack: MDs warn edibles a big risk to people with heart problems

 
‎Today, ‎February ‎11, ‎2019, ‏‎3 hours ago | Sharon Kirkey

Doctors are warning of a new and under-appreciated risk for a heart attack: marijuana lollipops.

In a report published Monday in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology, doctors describe the case of a 70-year-old Saint John, N.B., man who, looking for something to relieve his arthritic joints and help him sleep, took a friend’s advice one night and tried marijuana.

He bought a marijuana lollipop containing 90 mg of THC, the psychoactive component of pot. A typical joint contains about seven mg.

An appropriate starting dose might have been a few licks, or a small piece of the lollipop, doctors reported. Instead, the man ate most of it.

Within 30 minutes he started experiencing terrifying hallucinations of “impending doom” and crushing chest pain, his doctors report. Never a man prone to paranoia, he called a family member to say he thought he was dying.

He arrived in the emergency department pale and sweating profusely. Blood work and a cardiogram showed signs of a heart attack. He was treated and, after the effects of the THC wore off and his hallucinations stopped, his chest pain ended.

It was only after Dr. Alexandra Saunders did an internet search of marijuana dispensaries in the area that she discovered just how much THC the sucker contained.

The man had a history of heart disease, including triple bypass surgery. But his heart problems had been stable for two years before eating the lollipop.

A followup scan showed damage to the muscle; there was less blood leaving his heart with each contraction. “He didn’t feel like he had as much get up and go,” said Saunders, a chief resident in the internal medicine program at Dalhousie University.

With pot-laced edibles set to become legal this fall, the case could be a harbinger of many more to come.

Marijuana use is becoming ever more popular among middle-aged and older Canadians, just as baby boomers enter the age when they’re most at risk for heart disease. Many are naïve or never-before users; others are coming back to weed after having used in their youth.

“In our patient’s case, likely the cardiovascular event came during sudden and unexpected strain on the body with hallucinations,” Saunders and her co-author, Dr. Robert Stevenson, wrote in their report, “Marijuana Lollipop-Induced Myocardial Infarction.”

The component largely responsible for any effects on the heart is THC, which, even in a moderate dose in a naïve user, particularly an older one, “can produce significant toxicity,” Dr. Neal Benowitz, chief of clinical pharmacology at the University of California, San Francisco, wrote in a related editorial.

THC can strain the heart by stimulating the sympathetic nervous system, causing the heart to work harder. Heart rate and blood pressure increases, oxygen demand goes up and the body produces a surge of hormones that can constrict coronary vessels.

In high amounts THC can also cause anxiety, hallucinations, paranoia and panic.

For some people a few puffs of pot before bedtime helps with sleep, “in which case toxicity is likely to be low,” Benowitz said. When smoked or vaped, THC is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream and travels to the brain. The effects are almost immediate, so it can be easier to dose.

On the other hand, with edibles, the absorption is “slow and erratic,” he said. Blood THC levels peak at four hours or longer. Not only are edibles often sold in ways that can make it hard for people to figure out an appropriate dose, people can end up consuming more than they intended to, before the effects are felt.

“Often times people keep eating — or sucking on the sucker in this case — until they start to feel some relief, or feel something,” Saunders said. “I don’t know about you, but I know that when I eat a sucker I don’t lick it and put it away. Maybe that’s not the best delivery method,” she said, though, for people who do want to use cannabis, she generally prefers edibles to smoking because of the toxicity of marijuana smoke.

Stevenson, a cardiologist with the New Brunswick Heart Centre, was startled by just how much THC was in the lollipop. The man ate three-quarters of it, consuming, approximately, 70 mg of THC. The maximum recommended daily dose is 20 mg of THC. “That drug in that dosage was not something that his body was ready for,” Stevenson said.

The authors aren’t trying to demonize pot. However, “We’re going to have people that have never tried marijuana before, or who have not tried it in years,” Stevenson said, people who may be susceptible to pot in ways they haven’t been before.

“I think we need to be ready for more cardiac complications presenting to our emergency departments.”

Benowitz recommends CBD — which doesn’t come with THC’s mind-altering effects — rather than THC for pain and to help sleep.

• Email: skirkey@postmedia.com | Twitter: sharon_kirkey‏

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