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Roger Collier | CMAJ | Feb. 24, 2017

  • Almost 130 000 Canadians are registered with licensed producers of medical marijuana, according to Health Canada. Only 7900 Canadians had legal access to medical cannabis in mid-2014.
  • The federal government is considering increasing the legal smoking age to 21 as part of an effort to reduce the national smoking rate to 5% by 2035, down from the current rate of 13%. Also in consideration are smoking bans on college campuses and in condo and apartment buildings.
  • Health Canada detected fentanyl in 3721 illegal drug samples in 2016, compared to 231 in 2012, reported The Globe and Mail. The number of samples with fentanyl doubled between 2015 and 2016 in many parts of Canada, including Ontario, Quebec, Manitoba and Nunavut.
  • Canadians born in 2030 will have life expectancies of 84 for men and 87 for women, according to an article in The Lancet with projections for 35 industrial countries. That’s an increase of about four years for men and three years for women from Canadians born in 2010.
  • The British Columbia government announced that health premiums in the province will be cut in half starting Jan. 1, 2018. The province plans to eliminate premiums eventually, which would cost the government $2 billion a year.

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  • Politicians in Quebec are calling for a public debate on expanding access to medically assisted dying to patients unable to give informed consent because they have some form of dementia. The patients would have to have given prior consent in a will.
  • Toronto Public Health is investigating an outbreak of mumps. There have been 14 lab-confirmed cases among people between the ages of 18 and 35, which may be linked to visits to bars in west downtown Toronto.
  • Health Canada approved the sale of irradiated ground beef. Irradiation can reduce levels of E. coli, salmonella and other harmful bacteria, according to Health Canada.
  • Addressing Canada’s overdose crisis will require bridging the gap between treatment programs for mental health and those for addiction, according to British Columbia’s chief medical officer, Dr. Perry Kendall. Patients are often sent back and forth between the fields without receiving proper care, said Kendall.
  • An illegal Toronto cannabis dispensary filed a lawsuit in Federal Court to gain the right to sell marijuana to patients. Canada’s mail-order system doesn’t provide reasonable access to cannabis for patients, claims the lawsuit.

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