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Ottawa asks U.S. to note cannabis pardons to ensure accurate picture

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Ottawa is encouraging Washington to take careful note of criminal pardons granted to Canadians for pot possession so that U.S. officers have the most accurate information when deciding whether to let people cross the border.

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale says he made the point to a receptive Kevin McAleenan, the acting U.S. secretary of homeland security, during a meeting in Washington this week.

“It is important for the records that are kept on the American side to reflect the accurate legal status of Canadians,” Goodale said in an interview.

Parliament is studying a government bill that would ease the process of obtaining a pardon for possessing a small amount of cannabis now that recreational use of the drug is legal in Canada.

Under the legislation, which is before the Senate, Canadians convicted of simple pot possession over the decades before legalization could apply for a pardon, also known as a record suspension, without the usual fee or waiting period.

The RCMP cautions that Canadians convicted of cannabis-related offences could be refused entry to the U.S., even if they have been granted pardons in Canada.

Goodale said while U.S. officials have the right to decide who enters their country, Canada wants to ensure the Americans make decisions based on comprehensive data.

“There may be old information, or it could be conflicting information,” he said. “And we just want to make sure that it’s as complete and accurate and current as it can be, so that people are not unduly or improperly impeded at the border.”

Goodale said the U.S. agreed to work with Canada on the issue.

When possession and sharing of small amounts of marijuana became legal in Canada last October, it sparked concerns that more Canadians would be questioned at the border about pot, or even turned away.

Many U.S. states allow medical or recreational use of marijuana. But it means nothing when crossing the border because cultivation, possession and distribution of the drug remain illegal under the federal Controlled Substances Act.

The border falls under federal jurisdiction, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers can deny Canadians and other non-citizens entry on a number of marijuana-related grounds.

These include a pot conviction in the U.S. or abroad, an admission of use without a conviction, or reason to believe someone is a drug addict or involved in trafficking.

A traveller could also be turned away if the federal officer believes they will violate the Controlled Substances Act by smoking pot, even in a state like Colorado or Washington where it’s legal.

Once ruled inadmissible, a traveller might require a special waiver to enter the U.S.

Goodale said the Americans acknowledged this week that the border procedures “have worked pretty well” to date. 

“There haven’t been the lineups and the disruption that some people had expected might happen after the law was changed,” he said. “And that’s a tribute to the good work of border officials on both sides.”

—Follow @JimBronskill on Twitter

Jim Bronskill , The Canadian Press

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Staying active during COVID

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Staying active during COVID

During this unprecedented time, exercise becomes even more important to help with anxiety and stress. Let’s use exercise and physical activity to help manage any overwhelming negative emotions. We can continue to be active, despite of the pandemic with a few easy changes in our lives. Here’s Jonah, a family nurse and health basics coach from the Red Deer Primary Care Network.

Red Deer Primary Care Network (RDPCN) is a partnership between Family Doctors and Alberta Health Services. Health professionals such as psychologists, social workers, nurses and pharmacists work in clinics alongside family doctors.

In addition, programs and groups are offered at the RDPCN central location. This improves access to care, health promotion, chronic disease management and coordination of care.  RDPCN is proud of the patient care offered, the effective programs it has designed and the work it does with partners in health care and the community.

Read more stories from the Red Deer Primary Care Network.

Inspired to be healthy

 

 

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Inspired to be healthy

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Inspired to be Healthy

I have had high blood pressure for a number of years along with fatty liver disease, a bad back, excess weight and have ankles that swell and hurt upon standing for a length of time or during travel. I had been trying to lose weight for some time through eating a bit better and some exercise when I could. However, I wasn’t as committed as I could be, and I needed a push to make progress. When I went to my doctor and discussed my health, she suggested I attend Health Basics.

I loved the program! It inspired me to take my health more seriously and showed me great results for doing that. The coaches were not judgmental at all and really made you feel good about yourself. I learned lots and have implemented lots that I learned. Over the 8-week program, I lost 4 pounds and 3.5 inches off my waist. My blood pressure has come down and stayed down. I am to the point where my medications can be lowered.

My back was sensitive and when I did too much, it would hurt which kept me from engaging in too much exercise. Now I find with increased exercise, I have strengthened my core and have very few back pains. For the longest time when I would stand for shopping or travel on a plane, my ankles and legs would swell and cause me a lot of pain for a few weeks. That is pretty well gone now, likely due to improved circulation. I do a half an hour exercise class online every day. I have started an exercise group once a week with 6 friends, so we keep each other motivated. I have shared my success story with many who also want to take Health Basics. As a result of taking this program I am all enthused and fired up for life and I really want to be healthy. It feels great!

Learn more about the Primary Care Network.

Dealing with Distress 

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july, 2020

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