It’s hard to read the federal government when it comes to its position on addiction. One day it’s nanny state rhetoric, another it’s hands-off.
At any rate, Nova Scotia’s health minister is probably not the only provincial politician experiencing qualms over Ottawa’s decision to go ahead with the approval process for the generic form of OxyContin. David Wilson, like many Nova Scotia leaders and health professionals, is all too aware that oxycodone is a highly addictive street drug of choice in the province. He had hoped for a delay so regulators could examine abuse of the drug.
With federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq announcing the approval process Monday, that means generic oxycodone could win approval after the patent for the brand-name stuff expires on Nov. 25.
Aglukkaq said it wouldn’t be appropriate to interfere with the approval process because some people abuse the medication. What about patients with painful conditions who benefit from it?
Indeed, good reasoning, but Wilson knows that will place the issue in the provinces’ court to bolster addiction services and work with doctors and pharmacists on rules surrounding prescribing the drug.
Meanwhile, where the federal government does continue to micro-manage in the drug arena is the recreational use of marijuana. It can’t get beyond the paradigm of enforcing outdated laws – even tightening them – despite relatively common use and increasing calls for decriminalization.
In fact, a new study by the University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University to determine the value of pot in the black market raised some startling numbers. The research suggests more than 366,000 people in B.C. use marijuana and estimates the industry is worth between $443 million and $564 million a year.
That represents a lot of potential tax revenue – as well as a lot of money currently going into the pockets of criminal gangs.
If the federal government does have a philosophy on drug abuse and addiction, it’s looking more warped all the time.