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Health

Vets lobby to expand medical cannabis laws to include dogs, cats

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OTTAWA — Parliament Hill is going to the dogs today as veterinarians lobby MPs to authorize the use of medical cannabis for critters.

The vets are bringing five dogs to the Hill to draw attention to what they see as glaring omissions in the legalized regimes for medical and recreational marijuana.

The law does not allow veterinarians to prescribe pot for pets, even though preliminary research suggests it could be beneficial in treating pain, seizures, anxiety and other disorders — much as it is for humans.

Moreover, the law requires labels on cannabis products warning they be kept out of reach of children, but there’s no similar warning that they could be harmful to animals.

Dr. Sarah Silcox, president of the Canadian Association of Veterinary Cannabinoid Medicine, says her group has been told the omissions were likely “an oversight” that can be considered when the legalized cannabis regime is reviewed in three years.

But she wants more urgent action.

“For our patients, they age much faster than we do and this really isn’t an issue that can wait for a three-year review,” Silcox said in an interview.

Because vets can’t legally prescribe cannabinoids for animals, or even offer advice to pet owners on the most suitable products or dosages, Silcox said some people are taking it upon themselves to administer cannabis to their pets. They’re using products sold for human consumption or unregulated “black market” products marketed for animal use, but about which veterinarians have concerns about “safety and purity.”

“Veterinarians are able to prescribe almost any other drug, including things like fentanyl and other opioids and … prescription drugs that contain cannabis derivatives and yet we’re not able to authorize the use of cannabis itself,” Silcox said.

The prohibition on veterinary use of cannabinoids has made research into the potential benefits “challenging,” but Silcox said preliminary studies suggest positive benefits for managing pain from arthritis and other conditions, epilepsy, anxiety and general inflammatory conditions.

It is particularly useful for treating cats, who are more sensitive than dogs to the other pain medications currently used for animals, she said.

Silcox’s group and the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association have lobbied the government to authorize veterinary use of cannabinoids. Silcox said they’ve been told by the policy adviser to Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor that it is not a priority at the moment, but can be considered when the Cannabis Act is reviewed in three years.

However, Silcox noted the government is in the process of reviewing cannabis regulations now in preparation for adding edibles and oils to the list of legal products next year. It would take only a “few small changes” to add vets to the medical practitioners authorized to prescribe cannabinoids and to change references to people to patients, covering both the human and animal variety, she said.

The Canadian Press


Alberta

Flu shots available in Alberta this month

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Health Minister Tyler Shandro receives influenza immunization from pharmacist Anar Sulemon at Southport Pharmacy in Calgary.

From the Province of Alberta

Influenza vaccine is arriving in pharmacies and doctors’ offices across the province this week.

“Getting your flu shot is one of the best things you can do to protect your own health and that of your community; and it’s never been easier. I encourage all Albertans to join me in getting immunized this season by visiting their local pharmacy or doctor’s office, or an AHS public clinic.”

Tyler Shandro, Minister of Health

“Over the past 10 years, Alberta pharmacists have become the single largest provider of influenza vaccine to Albertans. As front- line health-care providers, one of our primary roles is to help people stay healthy. Vaccination protects the most vulnerable people in our communities and decreases costly emergency room visits and hospitalizations; it’s another way pharmacists help keep Albertans healthy.”

Darren Erickson, president, Alberta Pharmacists’ Association

Influenza immunization is free to all Albertans over five years of age at pharmacies, and to Albertan six months or older at public clinics and some doctors’ offices.

Large influenza immunization clinics will begin in the week of Oct. 21.

To find out when influenza immunization will be available in your area, check with your doctor’s office or community pharmacy, call Health Link at 811, or for AHS immunization clinics, visit www.ahs.ca/influenza.

Quick facts

  • Influenza is a respiratory virus that can cause serious illness and death, particularly in vulnerable groups like seniors, young children, pregnant women and those with chronic health conditions.
  • There are many strains of influenza. The vaccine is formulated each year to protect against the strains expected to cause the most illness in Canada, based on advice from the World Health Organization about which strains are circulating elsewhere in the world.
  • Alberta offers a four-strain (quadrivalent) injectable influenza vaccine produced by two manufacturers (Fluzone and FluLaval Tetra). It will be offered to eligible Albertans six months of age and older.
  • For the 2019-20 season, enough vaccine has been ordered to immunize 35 per cent of the population at a cost of approximately $12.5 million.
  • Stats for the 2018-19 flu season:
    • The immunization rate was 31 per cent (1,317,659 doses of vaccine administered), compared to 29 per cent in 2017-18.
    • Approximately 55 per cent of all influenza immunizations were administered by Alberta pharmacies.
    • There were 7,698 lab-confirmed cases of influenza in Alberta, compared to 9,609 cases in 2017-18.
    • There were 52 deaths among hospitalized patients with laboratory-confirmed influenza, compared to 92 deaths in 2017-18.
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Alberta

It’s World Mental Health Day – Let’s have open conversations about the difficulties we face ‘together’!

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Premier Kenney and Jason Luan

Health Minister Tyler Shandro, Premier Kenney and Associate Minister for Mental Health and Addictions Jason Luan spent some time with wellness dogs from Chimo Animal Assisted Wellness and Learning Society at the Legislature to mark World Mental Health Day.

From the Province of Alberta

Mental Health Day: Statement from Minister Luan

Associate Minister of Health and Addictions Jason Luan issued the following statement on World Mental Health Day

“We know one in five people will experience a mental illness in their lifetime. That is why it is so important to have open, honest conversations about the pain associated with mental illness, the opportunities for recovery and the supports available to help people on their journey.

“This year, World Mental Health Day focuses on suicide prevention. While talking about this subject may be difficult, it is nothing compared to the tragedy of dealing with the loss of a loved one. Too many Albertans have experienced this heartbreak.

“If you are struggling with your mental health or are having suicidal thoughts, please know you are not alone. You are loved. We urge you to reach out to your family and friends and to call the Mental Health Help Line day or night at 1-877-303-2642.

“On World Mental Health Day – and every day – let’s talk openly with our loved ones about the challenges of mental illness, and the support we can provide each other to promote mental wellness, recovery and hope.”

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october, 2019

wed16oct6:00 pm11:00 pmBusiness of the Year Awards - Red Deer Chamber of Commerce6:00 pm - 11:00 pm Red Deer College

thu17oct6:30 pm8:30 pmACRYLIC POUR ART CLASSES6:30 pm - 8:30 pm

fri18oct7:00 pmLip Sync Battle7:00 pm MT Bo's Bar & Grill, 2310 50 Ave Event Organized By: The Outreach Centre

sat19oct9:00 am4:00 pmCoats 4 Kids & Charity Checkstop9:00 am - 4:00 pm Taylor Drive Event Organized By: The Central Alberta Crime Prevention Page

sat19oct10:00 am12:00 pmRed Deer River Naturalists Bird Focus Group Walk10:00 am - 12:00 pm MST Kerry Wood Nature Centre, 6300 45 Ave Event Organized By: Red Deer River Naturalists

sat26oct10:00 am12:00 pmRed Deer River Naturalists Bird Focus Group Walk10:00 am - 12:00 pm MST Maskepetoon Park Event Organized By: Red Deer River Naturalists

tue29oct(oct 29)1:00 amsun03nov(nov 3)1:00 amCanadian Finals Rodeo1:00 am - (november 3) 1:00 am Westerner Park, 4847A-19 Street

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