Fentanil: Oružje za masovno uništenje

Dva člana moje obitelji su otišli zbog fentanila, jedne od najotrovnijih tvari na planeti.

Za mog malog brata koji nas je prerano napustio. Nedostajat ćeš mi, Ryan.

Voli izgubljeni rad

Ovo je prvi put da sam išta napisao otkako sam izgubio mlađeg brata prije gotovo mjesec dana. Imao je 43 godine kada je preminuo kao posljedica slučajnog predoziranja fentanila, negdje u ranim jutarnjim satima 6. rujna. Kao i milijuni drugih, i moj je mali brat bio ovisnik o drogama i dugo je bio. Toliko je velika bila unutarnja tjeskoba koju je osjećao, da se okrenuo narkoticima da bi ga olakšao.

Ne želim da on definira način na koji je umro, već za čovjeka koji je on bio. Nije bio savršen, ali bio je jedan od najslađih, najdarovitijih ljudi koje sam poznavao. Bio je odan svojim prijateljima i obitelji i imao je mnogo dugoročnih prijateljstava, a neka su se vratila i preko 30 godina. Dotaknuo je puno života i duboko će ga propustiti oni koji nas ostavi.

Saznao sam da je u danima koji su vodili do njegove smrti govorio o ulasku u dugoročno saniranje. Toliko se umorio od života koji je živio i nije želio ništa više od ozdravljenja, fizičkog, emocionalnog i duhovnog liječenja. Na dan kad je umro, trebao se okupiti s jednim svojim dobrim prijateljima, a zajedno će tražiti internetske sadržaje za dugotrajne rehabilitacije koji se nalaze izvan grada.

Prošle godine jedan moj rođak oduzeo je vlastiti život predoziranjem fentanil analognim karfentanilom, lijekom 10.000 puta jačim od morfija. Toliko je opasno da su nakon dolaska u kontakt s osobom predoziranja morali biti hospitalizirani mnogi prvi liječnici.

Željela sam znati više o otrovu koji je tvrdio dva člana moje obitelji, pa sam, kao i uvijek, počeo tražiti neke odgovore. Podaci koje sam pronašao u vrlo kratkom vremenu poslali su mi hladnu kralježnicu. Osim učinka koji je fentanil imao na moj osobni život, on ima i značajne posljedice u međunarodnim odnosima. Narodna Republika Kina proizvodi većinu, ako ne i sve, kemikalija prethodnika koji se koriste za sintezu fentanila. To biste trebali uzeti u obzir i; sintetizirali su ga znanstvenici u sveučilišnom laboratoriju u Kini, sada je analog fentanila toliko smrtonosan da bi jedna žličica ubila oko toliko ljudi koliko je Velika kuga učinila u Europi u 14. stoljeću.

Opioid ili opijat?

Da bismo ih razlikovali, opijati su oni lijekovi koji su prirodno izvedeni iz cvjetajuće biljke opijumskog maka (tj. Morfij, kodein). Opioidi su mnogo šira kategorija i uključuju bilo koju supstancu, prirodnu ili sintetsku, koja se veže na opioidne receptore mozga.

Fentanil

Fentanil će vjerojatno biti lijek koji je najviše povezan s opioidnom krizom, iako to razlikovanje pripada OxyContinu, formulaciji produženog otpuštanja oksikodona, Purdue Pharma, koja ima sumnjivu reputaciju.

Iako je stekao veliku pažnju 0 u posljednjem desetljeću, fentanil je već duže vrijeme od toga. Dr. Paul Jannsen prvi ga je sintetizirao 1958. godine pod patentom njegove tvrtke Jannsen Pharmaceutica. Sada je u vlasništvu konglomerata Johnnson & Johnson, koji su izgubili tužbe protiv velikih dolara koje su pokrenule žene koje tvrde da je Johnsonov prašak za bebe uzrokovao rak jajnika.

Bio je moćan analgetik, nekih 100x snažniji od morfija, a mogao se koristiti i za anesteziju. Na tržište će se pojaviti 1960. godine kao IV anestetik s robnom markom Sublimaze.

Fentanil analozi i derivati

Kemijski analog je spoj koji je strukturno sličan drugom spoju na molekularnoj razini, ali se u određenoj mjeri razlikuje od izvornog spoja. Ubrzo nakon izdavanja Sublimaze njegova će popularnost dovesti do razvoja brojnih analoga i derivata fentanila. među kojima su bili Sufentanil, Alfentanil, Lofentanil i Remifentanil.

Sufentanil

Najjači analgetik dostupan za ljudsku upotrebu, on je 5 puta jači od fentanila i 500x jači od morfija. Koristi se u bolnicama kao analgetik i kao dodatak anesteziji pod robnim markama Dsuvia i Sufenta.

Alfentanila

Alfentanil ima jačinu koja je otprilike 10-25% od fentanila. Dejstvo je četiri puta veće od fentanila, ali traje samo jednu trećinu. Koristi se kao kratko djelujući anestetik.

Lofentanil

Jedan od najsnažnijih analoga fentanila, najsličniji je karfentanilu.

Remifentanil

Remifentanil se koristi u bolničkim uvjetima. Koristi se za sedaciju, kao anestezijski dodatak i kao analgetik, koji ima robnu marku Ultiva. Dvostruko je jača fentanila i 200x je snažnija od morfija.

Karfentanil

Karfentanil se koristi kao sedativ za velike životinje pod robnom markom Wildnil. Pri 100x jačini fentanila, 1000 puta je jači od morfija. Počeo se pojavljivati na ulicama prije nekoliko godina sa smrtonosnim rezultatima. Procijenjena smrtonosna doza za ljude je 50 mikrograma. Za usporedbu, sjeme maka teži otprilike 300 mikrograma.

Image result for carfentanil lethal dose
Usporedba smrtonosnih doza heroina, fentanila i karfentanila.
Image result for fentanyl lethal dose comparison
Smrtonosna doza fentanila za prosječnu odraslu osobu (2mg)

Ohmefentanil – najsnažniji i najsmrtonosniji analog fentanila

Ako mislite da je fentanil loš …

https://www.acsh.org/news/2017/01/17/if-you-think-fentanyl-bad-10663

Ohmefentanil prvi su sintetizirali početkom 1970-ih znanstvenici u laboratoriju na Kineskoj akademiji znanosti u Guangzhouu, Kina. Više od 6.000x jače od morfija, toliko je snažno da je jedna unce ohmefentanila dovoljna da ubije 175 milijuna ljudi. Rečeno je da je sintetizacija ohmefentanila mnogo složenija nego sinteza fentanila. Postupak uključuje više opreme i dodatnih prekursora i otapala, a budući da je tako toksičan, izuzetno je opasan za proizvodnju i njime se može sigurno rukovati samo zaštitnom opremom.

Sinteza i analgetska aktivnost stereoizomera cis-fluoro-ohmefentanila

https://www.academia.edu/8863856/Synthesis_and_analgesic_activity_of_stereoisomers_of_cis-fluoro-ohmefentanyl

Kemikalije prekursora Fentanila

Image result for 4-anilinopiperidine
Prodaje se farmaceutski stupanj 4-anilinopiperidin (hidroklorid) na mreži od kineskog proizvođača. Ovaj je sposoban proizvesti 5000 kg ovog spoja svaki mjesec.

DEA predlaže kontrolu tri kemikalije prethodnika koji se koriste za nelegalnu proizvodnju smrtonosnog fentanila

https://www.dea.gov/press-releases/2019/09/17/dea-proposes-control-three-precursor-chemicals-used-illicitly-manufacture

Fentanil se sintetizira korištenjem sastojaka poznatih kao prekursori. Te kemikalije prethodnika prodaju proizvođači u Kini, koji čine desetke tisuća takvih spojeva. Ti spojevi uključuju stvari poput aditiva u hrani, veterinarskih proizvoda, pesticida i kemikalija prekursora koji se koriste za sintezu farmaceutskih lijekova, uključujući fentanil.

Ogromna većina prekursora koji se koriste u sintezi fentanila šalje se u Meksiko, gdje se proizvodi većina nevidljivog fentanila u SAD-u. Potreban je obučeni kemičar da sintetizira fentanil ispočetka, što meksički karteli nemaju. Ali, lakše je napraviti fentanil upotrebom velikih količina opskrbljenih kemikalija, a to je ono što čine karteli.

Dana 17. rujna ove godine DEA je objavila da daje prijedlog za kontrolu tri kemikalije prekursora potrebne za sintezu fentanila. Teško je reći kakav će učinak imati bilo koji takav učinak jer je velika većina nezakonitog fentanila proizvedena u Meksiku.

Poruka “kod kuće” je da postoje milijuni analoga fentanila koji se mogu proizvesti od komercijalno dostupnih kemikalija. Sasvim je izvjesno da će mnogi od njih imati svojstva slična fentanilu i da će neki od njih napraviti čak i danas najsnažniji analozi, poput karfentanila i sufentanila, poput bombon bombona.

Organska kemija može pobijediti bilo koji sporazum o fentanilu
Autor Josh Bloom – 5. prosinca 2018
https://www.acsh.org/news/2018/12/05/organic-chemistry-can-defeat-any-fentanyl-agreement-13645

Jednostavno nije realno misliti da će ugovori ili međunarodno pravo prekinuti proizvodnju i distribuciju ovih spojeva prethodnika. Jednostavno, ne postoji jednostavan ili učinkovit način provođenja međunarodnih sporazuma među suverenim državama. Pogledajte samo trenutno stanje međunarodnih odnosa.

Na ovaj ili onaj način ove kemikalije će se i dalje proizvoditi, džin se ne može vratiti u bocu. Činjenica je i da će znanstvenici, prije svega u Narodnoj Republici Kini, pokušavati sintetizirati nešto još jače.

„Nuklearna elektrana je osjetljiv proizvod. Zašto ga kupujete? “, Jedna prodavačica Yuancheng-a pitala me na Skypeu, prije nego što je proizvod bio zakazan u Kini. „Znam da ga mnogi kupuju. Ali ne znam za što se koristi. “

Objasnio sam da se koristio za izradu fentanila.

“Znam fentanil”, nastavila je, “ali zašto ga ljudi koriste? Kinezi ga ne koristimo. “

To je vrlo zarazno, rekao sam.

“Da, znam da su ljudi loši proizvodi”, priznala je prodavačica, “ali ja to i dalje prodajem, pa ponekad osjećam krivnju. NPP nije zabranjena u Kini, pa je možemo prodati. Prodajem ga, jer želim zaraditi, zaraditi za život. “

Na hrabar način kineska tvrtka izbacila je sastojke fentanila u Sjedinjene Države.
BEN WESTHOFF
https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2019/08/chinese-company-helping-fuel-opioid-epidemic/596254/

Dok je DEA u svojoj najavi za 17. rujna predložila uvođenje regulatornih promjena, slične regulatorne promjene u Kanadi stupile su na snagu 6. svibnja 2019. godine, kada su bile registrirane u Kanadskom glasniku.

Vlada Kanade mijenja propise radi sprečavanja ilegalne proizvodnje i prometa kontroliranih tvari

https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/news/2019/05/government-of-canada-changes-regulations-to-help-prevent-illegal-production-and-trafficking-of-controlled-substances.html

Kanatski glasnik, II dio, svezak 153, broj 10

http://gazette.gc.ca/rp-pr/p2/2019/2019-05-15/html/sor-dors120-eng.html

Oružje fentanila

Image result for chemical weapons symbols

Sa tako izuzetno jakom potencijalom, spojevi poput ohmefentanila jednostavno nisu praktični ili sigurni za upotrebu kao analgetik kod ljudi. Jedini logični razlog za sintezu ohmefentanila bio bi korištenje kao oružje za masovno uništenje. Omogućeno je da će trebati ogroman napor da se to naoruža i osmisli učinkovit sustav isporuke, ali to je još uvijek posebna mogućnost.

U svibnju 2018. godine, američka Agencija za zaštitu okoliša (EPA) izdala je informativni list za koordinatore scenarija Federalne agencije za zaštitu okoliša koji reagiraju na bilo kakve incidente onečišćenja okoliša fentanilom ili njegovim analogima. To je opsežan dokument od 11 stranica i neke od informacija sadržanih u njemu privukle su mi pažnju. Sadrži popis mogućih putova izloženosti, drugim riječima, načina na koji bi se fentanil mogao širiti na populaciju. Uključuju otvorene površine, vodoopskrbni sustav, zatvorene prostore i hranu.

Otvorena područja: Iako je fentanil čvrsti prah na sobnoj temperaturi, on predstavlja inhalaciju ili prijetnju slučajnim izlaganjem ako se dovoljno praha unese u zrak. Fentanil se također može otopiti u otapalima, a fentanil citrat je topiv u vodi, što omogućava izlaganje u aerosolnom obliku. U literaturi se vidi da su policajci pokazali simptome izloženosti opijatima nakon policijskih aktivnosti koje su stvarale fentanil prašinu / aerosol ili kada su radile u prašnjavim područjima.

Voda / Vodeni sustavi: Fentanil u tekućoj otopini stvara mogući put dermalne izloženosti i obično se koristi u mnogim ljekovitim oblicima fentanila. Literaturni pregledi pokazuju da se vodeni fentanil može naći kao ilegalna droga u intravenoznom obliku, sprejevi za nos, kapi za oči i tekućine s vape olovkom. Iako fentanil može ući u prirodne vode ili vodeni sustav, nije vjerojatni put izloženosti.

Unutarnji pogon: Fentanil se potencijalno može dispergirati u obliku krutih čestica ili tekućeg spreja (aerosola) unutar zgrade ili objekta; Može utjecati na sustave klimatizacije. Čestice iz fentanila su teže (manje plutajuće) od zraka i skupit će se na nižim razinama, u komunalnim hodnicima i / ili taložiti na površinama unutar zgrade.

Voda / Vodeni sustavi: Fentanil u tekućoj otopini stvara mogući put dermalne izloženosti i obično se koristi u mnogim ljekovitim oblicima fentanila. Literaturni pregledi pokazuju da se vodeni fentanil može naći kao ilegalna droga u intravenoznom obliku, sprejevi za nos, kapi za oči i tekućine s vape olovkom. Iako fentanil može ući u prirodne vode ili vodeni sustav, nije vjerojatni put izloženosti.

Unutarnji pogon: Fentanil se potencijalno može dispergirati u obliku krutih čestica ili tekućeg spreja (aerosola) unutar zgrade ili objekta; Može utjecati na sustave klimatizacije. Čestice iz fentanila su teže (manje plutajuće) od zraka i skupit će se na nižim razinama, u komunalnim hodnicima i / ili taložiti na površinama unutar zgrade.

Hrana: Iako je hrana malo vjerodostojna izloženost, fentanil se može osloboditi u obliku sitne prašine ili aerosola koji može kontaminirati hranu.

List s podacima za OSC-ove: Verzija 1.0 22.05.2018. Fentanil i Fentanil Analogi
https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2018-07/documents/fentanyl_fact_sheet_ver_7-26-18.pdf

Prije nego što me itko optuži za davanje terorista i ludaka sjajnoj novoj ideji, više je nego vjerovatno da je netko već smislio tu ideju, pa tako i sigurnosne agencije koje nas štite. Barem bi ih svejedno trebali imati.

Sada mi je jasnije nego ikad prije da je jedini način da se eliminira prijetnja fentanila i njegovih analoga, osim zabrane njegove proizvodnje, taj da ga svrstamo u kemijsko oružje i ozbiljno ograniči njegovu proizvodnju i distribuciju kao i proizvodnja i distribucija kemikalija prethodnika.

Zapanjujući brojevi

To se nikada neće dogoditi, jednostavno nije realno očekivanje iz više razloga. U međuvremenu, sve dok netko ne nađe djelotvorno rješenje za suzbijanje ove kuge, broj ljudi ubijenih fentanilom nastavit će rasti.

Broj umrlih

Ovdje u Alberti statistika je najmanje alarmantna. U 2016. od 803 smrtnih slučajeva od trovanja drogama i alkoholom 43% (347) pripisalo se fentanilu ili njegovim analogima. U 2017. godini povećao se na 59% (565/951), a u 2018. godini fentanil predstavlja 63% smrti od predoziranja (622/985).

Od ovih predoziranja 80% je uključivalo druge lijekove koji su miješali fentanil. 50% je uključivalo metamfetamin, 25% kokain i 5% heroin. Trgovci narkoticima dodavat će fentanil drugim lijekovima kako bi povećali svoju profitabilnost i kao sredstvo za privlačenje i zadržavanje kupaca. Ono što obično rezultira je da njihovi kupci ostanu mrtvi.

https://open.alberta.ca/dataset/f4b74c38-88cb-41ed-aa6f-32db93c7c391/resource/c23b895d-1922-4d73-86dc-ce170d0a07b3/download/health-alberta-opioid-response-surveillance-report-2019-q2.pdf

U nacionalnom broju je još veći. U 2016. godini ukupan broj smrtnih slučajeva predoziranja u Kanadi bio je 3023, od čega je 50% bilo fentanila ili njegovih analoga. U 2017. godini porasla je na 67% (4120), a u 2018. godini iznosila je 73% (4588). U prva tri mjeseca 2019. godine bio je 79%.

Također je naglo porastao broj smrtnih slučajeva predoziranja, što je za 36% više od 2016. do 2017. i za 11% više od 2017. do 2018. godine.

https://health-infobase.canada.ca/datalab/national-surveillance-opioid-mortality.html#fentanyl

Novac

Trgovina fentanilom vrlo je unosan posao. U stvari, riječ je o najslavnijem ilegalnom narkotiku koji se trenutno prodaje. U 2017. godini 1 kg čistog fentanila moglo se kupiti za 4.150 dolara. Ta 1 KG potencijalno bi mogla donijeti 1.600.000 USD prihoda prometnika, dobit od preko 38.000%

Za usporedbu, trgovci ljudima ostvarit će samo 1300% profita od heroina, odnosno 80.000 dolara prihoda od 1KG heroina kupljenog za 6000 dolara.

Profitabilnost fentanila u SAD-u u usporedbi s heroinom.

https://www.statista.com/statistics/777882/fentanyl-profitability-in-us-compared-to-heroin/

Nema jednostavnog popravljanja

Prošlo je više od desetljeća od kada su u medijima počeli izvještavati o tadašnjoj epidemiji opioida, a danas se naziva “opioidna kriza”. U Sjevernoj Americi fentanil je postao prijetnja javnoj sigurnosti za razliku od bilo koje ilegalne droge prije, više od heroina, kokaina ili metamfetamina. To je najsnažniji i najzaostaliji narkotik što ga čini i najopasnijim.

Za zaustavljanje ove krize zatražit će se djelovanje nekoliko vlada. Sve je veća populacija ovisnika o opioidima koji zahtijevaju trenutnu intervenciju, ali trenutno postoji kritični nedostatak ustanova za liječenje. Dodavanje dodatnih kapaciteta zahtijevalo bi financiranje poreznih obveznika, što bi ga tada postalo političkim problemom, a političari se nerado troše novac na projekte od kojih neće ostvariti nikakvu korist.

Također treba postojati politička volja za provedbu drugačije strategije za borbu protiv problema. Trenutno su napori usmjereni više na smanjenje štete ovisnika. Neke su jurisdikcije otvorile sigurna mjesta ubrizgavanja, gdje ovisnici mogu drogirati u sterilnom okruženju i uz dostupnu medicinsku intervenciju u slučaju predoziranja.

Postoji i segment stanovništva koji vjeruje da je legalizacija i regulacija svih ilegalnih opojnih droga rješenje. Mnogi će kao primjer uspjeha navesti Portugal.

Portugal

Portugal se krajem devedesetih suočio sa krizom lijekova. Jedan posto njezine populacije, 100.000 ljudi, bili su korisnici heroina, a prosječno više od 350 ljudi godišnje umire od predoziranja drogom. Početkom 2000-ih, Portugal je popravio svoje zakone o drogama, dekriminalizirajući male količine narkotika za osobnu upotrebu.

Broj smrtnih slučajeva predoziranja od tada je opao, iako to nije izravni rezultat dekriminalizacije. Portugalci su također prepoznali da nije dovoljno jednostavno dekriminalizirati neovlaštene droge, osigurali su i ovisnicima sredstva za pristup liječenju i pomagali im kako se ponovo integrirali u društvo.

Ako je iznos ispod ograničenja, bit ćete poslani sljedećeg dana Komisiji za suzbijanje ovisnosti o drogama – čak i ako ste turist. Tamo će vas intervjuirati psiholog ili socijalni radnik prije nego što se pojavite pred panelom za tri osobe koji će ponuditi prijedloge za zaustavljanje vaše uporabe droga.

Odatle ćete brzo pratiti sve usluge koje želite prihvatiti. Ako odbijete pomoć, od vas se može zatražiti da rade u zajednici ili čak, na kraju, suočite se s novčanom kaznom, možda čak i da vam se imovina oduzme i proda za plaćanje novčane kazne.

To je razlog zašto Goulão tako brzo ističe da uspjeh Portugala nije zbog dekriminalizacije. To je zato što se njegova država 2001. godine obvezala pružiti sve što svojim građanima treba biti što zdravija i što potpunije uključena u društvo.

“Dekriminalizacija nije srebrni metak”, rekao je. “Ako dekriminalizirate i ne učinite ništa drugo, stvari će se pogoršati.

DAPHNE BRAMHAM
Daphne Bramham: Dekriminalizacija nije srebrni metak, kaže portugalski car droga
https://vancouversun.com/opinion/columnists/daphne-bramham-decriminalization-is-no-silver-bullet-says-portugals-drug-czar

Kina: mjesto porijekla

Kemikalije prethodnice koje se koriste za sintezu fentanila i njegovih analoga proizvode se u Narodnoj Republici Kini, a vlada ne ograničava njihovu proizvodnju ili otpremu. Proizvođače je briga samo što oni prodaju svoj proizvod i na njemu ostvaruju zaradu, bez obzira na njegovu krajnju upotrebu ili posljedice koje on može donijeti. Također je vrlo mala vjerojatnost da će Kinezi postaviti bilo kakva ograničenja u proizvodnji i distribuciji tih kemikalija, i vrlo malo da ih bilo tko može učiniti. Sama po sebi nisu opasna i ne predstavljaju prijetnju

Kad to analiziram kroz leće međunarodnih odnosa, dolazim do nekih zaključaka s kojima se mnogi nesumnjivo ne slažu. Možda ću biti označen kao paranoičan ili teoretičar zavjere, ali prepustit ću vam to da izvučete vlastite zaključke.

Strateški gledano je na korist Kine da se te kemikalije koriste za sintezu fentanila. Ekonomska korist za Kinu relativno je mala u odnosu na stratešku. Brz i dramatičan porast broja ovisnika o drogama u društvu djelovat će kao destabilizirajući sila u njemu, dovodeći resurse koji bi se mogli bolje upotrijebiti na drugom mjestu.

Kinezi su također predvodili u sintezi najsnažnijih i najsmrtonosnijih analoga fentanila, s potencijalnom sposobnošću ubijanja desetaka milijuna ljudi. Ne postoje konvencije koje zabranjuju istraživanje i razvoj sintetičkih opioidnih droga poput kemijskog oružja ili drugih oružja protiv oružja. Da, znam da bi bilo vrlo teško i da će mu biti potrebno odgovarajuće vozilo za dostavu da bi bilo učinkovito. Kako znati da jedan još nije razvijen ili se na njemu već radi? Teoretski, oni su već mogli proizvesti dovoljno ohmefentanila kako bi izbrisali polovicu stanovništva kontinentalne države. To ima potencijal da se uvelike odmjeri na globalnoj ravnoteži snaga.

Podijelite ove informacije

Ovdje se ne mogu naći brzi i jednostavni popravci, a ljudi će i dalje umirati u sve većem broju. Pojedinačno ne može itko i drugi učiniti, to je nešto s čime se moramo baviti na državnoj razini i iskreno, to mi daje malo nade da će rješenje uskoro biti pronađeno.

Umrijet će mnogo ljudi koji to nisu morali, ljudi poput moga brata, a moje srce će se slomiti za obitelji i voljene koji će ostati. Podijelite ove informacije s osobama koje poznajete kako bi što veći broj ljudi bio svjestan koliko je situacija vrlo loša. Moguće je da bi vam jednog dana mogao spasiti život, možda i život nekoga koga poznajete i volite.



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It’s Been Almost Two Months Since My Brother Died, And I Need To Start Grieving

It all finally began to hit me last week. After Ryan died on the 6th of September I went into auto pilot. I knew what needed to get done and I made sure that it got done. Yes, I was overwrought and tears came very easily, but I still hadn’t begun to mourn the loss of my brother. Arrangements needed to be made and affairs settled, requiring me to focus my mind on the task at hand.

I flew to Ontario to attend the Veteran’s Mefloquine Rally in Ottawa on the 19th and finalized my brother’s memorial on returning home. Not long after that, I was off on another adventure, this time to Tuktoyaktuk with Mike Rude and his faithful companion Spark. Things didn’t turn out as planned however and I ended up back in Calgary, without much of a plan.

With nothing to distract me now, I began to finally comprehend the depth of my loss. My little brother is gone, and I’m never going to see him again. A hole in the Earth has opened up and swallowed me whole, or at least that is what it feels like. An intractible pain had gripped my heart and torn apart what remained of my battered soul.

Last week I had reached my lowest point, and I decided that the time had come for me to check myself into the hospital for my own safety. On Saturday I signed myself out Against Medical Advice, tired of repeating myself over and over again to a hundred different people. I was confident that I was making the correct decision, and I remain that confident now.

I remembered something that Churchill said. “If you are going through hell, keep going.” Somehow I have to keep on going. I have to walk down a very dark and lonely path through the grief and the guilt I am feeling right now, but I also have a lot of support to help me out along the way. My family and friends have reached out to me in my time of need and I am eternally grateful to them for that. I am also lucky to be a part of one of the biggest families around, and have received a lot of support from my brothers and sisters from other mother mothers and misters.

A part of me doesn’t want this feeling to end, afraid that when it does I will forget Ryan entirely. I know that this will never happen, there will never be a day that I won’t miss my little brother terribly. I have come to terms with the fact that my life will never be the same again, and that I will carry this with me until the day I die. There will forever be a sadness deep within me now that will never, ever go away.

I plan on fighting this battle on a number of fronts and will be utilizing a number of the methods at my disposal to do so. Grief counselling is on the list of things to do, along with a few other therapies, but so is volunteering, and writing. I’m going to start healing my soul by donating my time to the veteran’s food bank, so that some of my brothers and sisters can get the help that they need and a little of the respect that they are owed.

As I make this journey I’ll be documenting it in words and in pictures, in the hope that it may prove insightful and perhaps inspirational. Below are pictures I took on Monday, November 4th, as I walked around downtown Calgary.

The Devonian Gardens

Stephen Avenue

The Central Library

The King Eddy/Studio Bell

The Bounce

Just A Bump In The Road

Operation Tuktoyaktuk is put off until the spring, but the mission isn’t over.

It was late in the afternoon on Friday, October the 11th, and we were about a kilometer north of Fort Nelson, B.C.. We had just picked up road coffees and I was on Google Maps, looking at the final leg of the day’s journey from Fort Nelson to Fort Liard Hot Springs. I heard Mike say something about the truck up ahead that was coming out of a turnout. I looked up and saw the black Dodge Ram pulling out ahead of us, and he wasn’t slowing down. Moments later, two big Ram’s butted heads. The results speak for themselves.

The other truck. (Apologies for the potato quality.)

Apart from the eerily familiar sound of vehicles colliding, the first thing I noticed was a sharp pain in my right shoulder. For a few minutes it felt as though I might have dislocated it, what with the sharp pain and inability to move my arm. I had to sit there for a few minutes and just take in what the hell had just happened.

I didn’t move but I could hear Mike shouting, and was soon able to see that that at least appeared unharmed. There were no screams of pain and no panic was present in either Mike or Spark as near as I was able to gather. Slowly I began to move my head which had been transfixed at the sight in front of it for a couple of minutes. The hood was crumpled up and part of the wrap on it was clearly visible to me now. I moved my gaze away from the canopy of the parachute on the hood and began to assess the situation further.

By now the other driver, a rather distraught looking young man named Brandon, had stepped out of his Dodge Ram and was on his cell phone. Mike noticed an RCMP cruiser just a couple of minutes prior to the accident so we knew that they wouldn’t be that far away. Sure enough we had 2 RCMP members on scene within about 15-20 minutes, and the whole thing was wrapped up on the highway in less than 90 minutes. By then the debris had been cleared from the highway, reports had been taken, information exchanged, and we were on our way to a hotel back in Fort Nelson for the forseeable future.

We had a late dinner at Boston Pizza with which I had a pint of Rickards Red. I should also add here that you would barely know that Spark was there. She keeps her presence discreet, laying under the table at Mike’s feet. She stays out of sight and is quiet the whole time and was under Mike’s control.

Now The Fun Really Begins

Overnight Friday into Saturday is when I first started to notice that I wasn’t feeling well. I had pain on the right side of my belly, and it was sore to the touch. I began throwing up, and starting feeling chills. Mike and Spark weren’t around for my first episode in the bathroom, but they were around for the next couple. By the way I REALLY must apologize to Mike and the housekeeping staff at the Lakeview Inn in Fort Nelson for the state of the bathroom. I tried cleaning it as best I could but I was just not up to santizing it. I mean it wasn’t like anything out of The Exorcist, but it was a little funky.

Mike repeatedly asked if I was okay and if I wanted to go to the hospital. The smart thing to do would have been to say “Great idea Mike, lets go now.”. This did not happen however, and I stubbornly insisted on waiting until morning to see how I felt. Well, as the night wore on all that happened was I began to feel even worse, so I decided to get my ass to the hospital.

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A visit from Spark before the medivac flight to Fort.St.John

So off to the northernmost hospital in British Columbia I went, and after the usual paperwork, triage, etc., I was put in a bed where I was then poked for blood and had an IV started. It wasn’t long before I was being told that I had an infection of some kind and that I would need to go for a CT scan. The only problem is, Fort Nelson doesn’t have a CT scanner so I was put on a medivac flight to the nearest community that had one, Fort St. John.

We had passed through Fort St. John only a couple of days before, and now I was back as a patient in the hospital. I would end up spending two nights under their care, and with no beds available I spent them on a gurney in the ER, but I at least had a room to myself. They gave me Ancef and Flagyl to treat whatever it was that had caused my white blood cell count to spike, and morphine to dull the cramps in my belly. I had E.coli once and the pains were quite similar, that severe cramping in your bowels that makes you break out into a cold sweat.

My Thanksgiving dinner consisted of a bowl of orange jello from the unit fridge and a bowl of cream of asparagus soup and a coffee from the supper tray they brought to me. It didn’t really sit well and shortly after the cramps began to return. It took a day or two before I was finally able to tolerate something other than soft foods.

By Tuesday I was declared fit enough to leave the hospital so I headed into town and found a room at the Motel 6 for the night. I now had to wait for Mike and Spark who were still a few hours up the road in Fort Nelson. There he would have ICBC to deal with and try to rustle up a rental vehicle for us, which would be no easy task considering that the box of the truck still had all of Mike’s stuff in it as well as most of the clothes I had packed for the trip. He would need to find a rental pick-up, and finding a sedan was hard enough up there so there would be no getting a rental.

The Rescue Mission

It didn’t take long before help was on its way and on Thursday night I was reunited with my travel companions. Our saviours were Mike’s sisters, and now mine, Roxanne and Colleen. They drove to Fort Nelson, picking up Mike, Spark, and all of our stuff, then stopped in Fort St. John to collect me. The next morning we began the drive back to Beaumont, and by the time we got there that Friday night I was glad to be one step closer to home. But, I had also found a group of friends that I hope to go on another road trip with someday, only next time it won’t be a rescue mission.

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing, sky, cloud and outdoor
Image may contain: one or more people, people standing, sky, cloud, ocean and outdoor

The Walk For Veterans

https://www.canadianwalkforveterans.com

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The Canadian Walk for Veterans is working in cooperation with Military Minds Inc. to identify, vet and donate net proceeds from the Canadian Walk For Veterans to programs/groups that are working for our fellow veteran/first responders. These retreats/camps are available to all serving members, veterans and first responders. Monies raised from the Canadian Walk for Veterans will be going directly to: Rally Point Retreat (Nova Scotia), Sheepdog Lodge (Alberta), Camp My Way (British Columbia), Honour House (Vancouver, BC)

Canadian Walk for Veterans 2019

I was in Gold Bar Park in Edmonton on Saturday morning for the 2nd Annual Walk For Veterans, and it gave me the opportunity to meet a few people in person that I have interacted with online over the past several months. I was able to spend some time with Bruce Given, who put together the rally at the legislature in Edmonton last month. I also had the opportunity to blaze with Bryce Hooper, cannabis educator extraordinaire and co-founder of The Herb Clinic.

Al Cameron of Veteran’s Voices was there as well. He is talking to veterans across Canada and recording their stories for posterity, keeping alive a part of the history of our country and those who lived it. He is performing a valuable service to both veterans and Canada and I think should be commended for it.

It was a great day, as people got together to walk and talk and socialize while raising some money for some worthy local charities. I enjoyed some time out in the sun, got some exercise, and met a bunch of really great people.

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Bryce Hooper speaks at the Walk for Veterans
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Al Cameron
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Lola, Bruce Given, Mike Rude, Spark

Later on in the afternoon we made our way to the Calmar Legion, where I would help set up some tables and chairs for those who would be gathering to watch W5. Canada’s premier newsmagazine was doing a feature on the court action that veterans are bringing against the government. I saw the cameraman and producer on a few occasions while I was there that week.

Homeward Bound

On Sunday I made for home, and as I finish recovering from the accident in familiar surroundings I am also working on plans for the future. I am looking forward to a reunion with Mike and Spark, and I pray that it won’t be long before his epic journey resumes. I hope that I will be fortunate enough to join him and Spark once again, so that I can document his journey and help him reach as many veterans as possible. The message that we are bringing them will save some of their lives and offer some hope to those who previously had none.

Pro Patria.

My Main Priority Will Continue To Be Our Veterans

But I’m also from Alberta, and I have something to say about separation.

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The results of Monday’s election are beyond disheartening for me though they are really not a surprise at all. I said months ago that this result, a Liberal minority government with Justin Trudeau remaining the Prime Minister of Canada, would be the absolute worst case scenario for Canada and will prove to be particularly devastating to Alberta and Saskatchewan.

I also said that I would work hard towards the cause of separation if this should ever happen. While I remain strongly in favor of separation, there is another group that needs me far more right now. Thousands of Canadian veterans are in desperate need of help right now and I am would like to reach as many of them as I possibly can.

Many of our men and women in uniform suffered brain damage because of a drug they were ordered to take. A drug that was known to be dangerous and that was obtained by the military under fraudulent circumstances. Since they began using this drug in 1992, over 1,000 veterans have committed suicide and I have no doubt that mefloquine has played a role in a majority in them.

The separatist movement has a lot of supporters and is championed by many. The same cannot be said of our veterans though and they need every bit of support that they can get. In the grand scheme of things I will be able to make more of a difference by focusing my attention and efforts on them, rather than separation.

It is my fervent hope that the government will figure out a solution to this crisis, and can work out a deal that will be fair and equitable. I don’t hold out much hope that this will happen any time soon, if at all, and so Alberta must be prepared to act to make sure its interests are taken care of.

In the meantime I will continue to do what I can to make sure that the best interests of our heroes are taken care of.

Image may contain: 1 person, text that says 'Support Sgt. Mike Rude CD( Ret Mefloquine Awareness Drive Across Canada Soldiers Helping Soldiers'

Tune In To W5 On Saturday, October 19th At 7pm on CTV

A filmcrew from CTV’s long-running news magazine was at the rally in Ottawa last month.

This Saturday evening at 7pm, W5, one of Canada’s premier news magazine programs, is running a story on the legal action that hundreds of Canadian veterans are launching against the federal government.

While we were in Ottawa last month a crew from W5 filmed some background shots and conducted interviews with some people including Marj Matchee and Mike Rude, who I have been on the road with for the last week and a half.

And, in a stunning development, it was announced today that retired General Romeo Dallaire has decided to add his name to the list of plaintiffs who are taking the government to court, and to task. Having someone with a profile as high as Dallaire could most certainly prove to be a game changer.

Tune in to your CTV affilliate on Saturday night at 7PM, or download the CTV News app to watch it anytime after.

Fentanyl: Weapon of Mass Destruction

Two members of my family are gone because of fentanyl, one of the most toxic substances on the planet.

For my little brother, who left us far too soon. I’ll miss you, Ryan.

December 21, 1975 – September 6, 2019

Loves Labor Lost

Calgary Herald September 29th, 2019

This is the first time that I have written anything since I lost my younger brother almost a month ago. He was 43 when he passed away as the result of an accidental overdose of fentanyl, sometime in the early morning hours of September 6th. Like millions of others, my little brother was addicted to drugs and had been for a long time. So great was the internal anguish that he had felt, that turned to narcotics to ease it.

I don’t want him to be defined by the way he died, but rather for the man that he was. He was not perfect, but he was one of the kindest, most generous people that I knew. He was loyal to his friends and family, and had many long-term friendships, some going back well over 30 years. He touched a lot of lives and will be profoundly missed by those of us he leaves behind.

I have learned that in the days leading up to his death he had been talking about entering a long-term rehab facility. He was so very tired of the life he was living and wanted nothing more than to get better, to heal physically, emotionally, and spiritually. On the day he died, he was supposed to get together with one of his good friends and together they would look online for long-term rehab facilities located outside of town.

Last year, one of my cousins lost his life to an accidental overdose of the fentanyl analog carfentanil, a drug 10,000 times stronger than morphine. It is so dangerous that many first responders have had to be hospitalized after coming into contact with a person having an overdose.

I wanted to know more about the poison that has claimed two members of my family, so as always, I started looking for some answers. The information I found in a very short amount of time sent a chill up my spine. Apart from the effect that fentanyl has had on my life personally, it also has significant international relations ramifications. The People’s Republic of China manufactures most, if not all, of the precursor chemicals used to synthesize fentanyl. You should also consider this; synthesized by scientists in a university laboratory in China, there is now a fentanyl analog so lethal, that one teaspoon would kill about as many people as the Great Plague did in Europe in the 14th century.

Opioid or Opiate?

To make the distinction, opiates are those drugs naturally derived from the flowering opium poppy plant (ie morphine, codeine). Opioids are a much broader category and include any substance, natural or synthetic, which binds to the brain’s opioid receptors.

Fentanyl

Fentanyl will probably be the drug most associated with the opioid crisis, even though that distinction belongs to OxyContin, the Purdue Pharma extended release formulation of oxycodone that has the dubious reputation of starting it.

Although it has gained a great deal of attention 0ver the last decade, fentanyl has been around for a lot longer than that. Dr. Paul Jannsen first synthesized it in 1958 under a patent held by his company, Jannsen Pharmaceutica. It is now owned by conglomerate Johnnson & Johnson, who have lost big dollar law suits brought by women claiming Johnson’s Baby Powder caused their ovarian cancer.

It was a powerful analgesic, some 100x more powerful than morphine, and could also be used for anaesthesia. It would hit the market in the 1960. as an IV anaesthetic with the brand name Sublimaze.

Fentanyl Analogs and Derivatives

A chemical analog is a compound that is structurally similar to another compound on a molecular level, but differs from the original compound to some degree. Not long after Sublimaze was released its popularity would lead to the development of a number of fentanyl analogs and derivatives. among which were Sufentanil, Alfentanil, Lofentanil and Remifentanil.

Sufentanil

The strongest analgesic available for human use, it is 5x the strength of fentanyl and 500x stronger than morphine. It is used in hospitals as an analgesic and as an adjunct to anaesthesia under the brand names Dsuvia and Sufenta.

Alfentanil

Alfentanil has a potency that is approximately 10-25% that of fentanyl. It’s onset of action is 4x that of fentanyl but only lasts one-third as long. It is used as a short acting anaesthetic.

Lofentanil

One of the most potent fentanyl analogs, it is most similar to carfentanil.

Remifentanil

Used in a hospital setting, remifentanil is used for sedation, as an anaesthesia adjunct, and as an analgesic, having the brand name Ultiva. It is twice the strength of fentanyl and 200x more powerful than morphine.

Carfentanil

Carfentanil is used as a sedative for large animals under the brand name Wildnil. At 100x the strength of fentanyl, it is 1000x more potent than morphine. It started to appear on the streets a few years ago with deadly results. The estimated lethal dosage in humans is 50 micrograms. By comparison, a poppy seed weighs approximately 300 micrograms.

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Comparison of the lethal doses of heroin, fentanyl, and carfentanil.
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A lethal dose of fentanyl for the average adult (2mg)

Ohmefentanyl – The most potent and deadly fentanyl analog

If You Think Fentanyl Is Bad…

https://www.acsh.org/news/2017/01/17/if-you-think-fentanyl-bad-10663

Ohmefentanyl was first synthesized in the early 1970’s by scientists in a lab at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Guangzhou, China. More than 6,000x stronger than morphine, it is so potent that one ounce of ohmefentanyl is enough to kill 175 MILLION people. That being said it is far more complex to synthesize ohmefentanyl than it is to synthesize fentanyl. The process involves more equipment and additional precursors and solvents and, because it is so toxic, it is extremely hazardous to manufacture and can only be handled safely using protective equipment.

Synthesis and analgesic activity of stereoisomers of cis -fluoro-ohmefentanyl

https://www.academia.edu/8863856/Synthesis_and_analgesic_activity_of_stereoisomers_of_cis-fluoro-ohmefentanyl

Fentanyl Precursor Chemicals

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Pharmaceutical Grade 4-Anilinopiperidine (hydrochloride) for sale online from a Chinese manufacturer. This one is capable of producing 5,000kg of this compound every month.

DEA proposes to control three precursor chemicals used to illicitly manufacture deadly fentanyl

https://www.dea.gov/press-releases/2019/09/17/dea-proposes-control-three-precursor-chemicals-used-illicitly-manufacture

Fentanyl is synthesized using ingredients known as precursors. These precursor chemicals are sold by manufacturers in China, who make tens of thousands of such compounds. These compounds include things such as food additives, veterinary products, pesticides, and the precursor chemicals used to synthesize pharmaceutical drugs, including fentanyl.

The vast majority of the precursors used in the synthesis of fentanyl are sent to Mexico, where most of the illict fentanyl in the US is made. It takes a trained chemist to synthesize fentanyl from scratch, something the Mexican cartels do not have. But, it is easier to make fentanyl using bulk supplies of the precursor chemicals, which is what the cartels do.

On September 17th of this year the DEA announced that it was putting forth a proposal to control three of the precursor chemicals needed to synthesize fentanyl. It’s difficult to say what effect if any this will have since the vast majority of illicit fentanyl is made in Mexico.

The take-home message here is that there are millions of fentanyl analogs that can be made from commercially available chemicals. It is all but certain that many of them will have fentanyl-like properties and that some of these will make even the most powerful analogs today, such as carfentanil and sufentanil, seem like cotton candy. 

Organic Chemistry Can Defeat Any Fentanyl Agreement
By Josh Bloom — December 5, 2018
https://www.acsh.org/news/2018/12/05/organic-chemistry-can-defeat-any-fentanyl-agreement-13645

It just isn’t realistic to think that treaties or international law will end the production and distribution of these precursor compounds. There is simply no easy or effective way of enforcing international agreements amongst sovereign nations. Just look at the current state of international relations.

One way or another these chemicals will continue to be manufactured, the genie cannot be put back into the bottle. The fact also remains that scientists, primarily in The People’s Republic of China, will continue to attempt to synthesize something even stronger.

“NPP is a sensitive products. Why you buy it?” one Yuancheng saleswoman asked me on Skype, before the product was scheduled in China. “I know many people buy it. But I don’t know what it is used for.”

I explained that it was used to make fentanyl.

“I know fentanyl,” she continued, “but why people use it? We Chinese don’t use it.”

It’s highly addictive, I said.

“Yes, I know it is a bad products to person,” the saleswoman admitted, “but I still sell it, so sometimes I feel guilt. NPP is not forbidden in China, so we can sell. I sell it, because I want earn money, earn a living.”

The Brazen Way a Chinese Company Pumped Fentanyl Ingredients Into the U.S. BEN WESTHOFF
https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2019/08/chinese-company-helping-fuel-opioid-epidemic/596254/

While the DEA proposed making regulatory changes in their announcement of September 17th, similar regulatory changes in Canada came in to effect on May 6th, 2019, when they were registered in the Canada Gazette.

Government of Canada changes regulations to help prevent illegal production and trafficking of controlled substances

https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/news/2019/05/government-of-canada-changes-regulations-to-help-prevent-illegal-production-and-trafficking-of-controlled-substances.html

Canada Gazette, Part II, Volume 153, Number 10

http://gazette.gc.ca/rp-pr/p2/2019/2019-05-15/html/sor-dors120-eng.html

Weaponizing Fentanyl

Image result for chemical weapons symbols
The international symbols for radiological, biological, and chemical hazards.

With such an extremely high potency, compounds like ohmefentanyl are simply not practical, or safe, for use as an analgesic in human beings. The only logical reason for synthesizing ohmefentanyl would be to use it as a weapon of mass destruction. Granted it would take a huge effort to weaponize it and come up with an effective delivery system, but it is still a distinct possibility.

In May of 2018, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a fact sheet for Federal EPA On Scene Coordinators who respond to any incidents of environmental contamination by fentanyl or its analogs. It is a comprehensive 11 page document, and some of the information contained in it caught my attention. It includes a list of the possible exposure pathways, in other words, the ways that fentanyl could be spread to a population. These include open areas, water/water systems, indoor facilities, and food.

Fact Sheet for OSCs: Version 1.0 05/22/2018 Fentanyl and Fentanyl Analogs

Open Areas: While fentanyl is a solid powder at room temperature, it poses an inhalation or incidental ingestion exposure threat if sufficient powder becomes airborne. Fentanyl can also be dissolved in solvents and fentanyl citrate is soluble in water, which allows exposure in aerosol form. The literature indicates that police officers showed symptoms of opiate exposure after police activities created fentanyl dust/aerosol or when they worked in dusty areas.

Water/Water Systems: Fentanyl in liquid solution creates a possible dermal exposure pathway and is commonly used in many medicinal forms of fentanyl. Literature reviews indicate that aqueous fentanyl may be found as an illicit drug in intravenous form, nasal sprays, eye drops, and vape pen liquids. While fentanyl could enter natural waters or a water system, neither is a likely exposure pathway.

Indoor Facility: Fentanyl could potentially be dispersed as solid particulates or liquid spray (aerosol) inside a building or facility; HVAC systems may be affected. Fentanyl particulates are heavier (less buoyant) than air and will accumulate on lower levels and in utility corridors and/or deposit on surfaces inside a building.

Food: While food is an unlikely exposure pathway, fentanyl can be released as a fine dust or aerosol that may contaminate food.

https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2018-07/documents/fentanyl_fact_sheet_ver_7-26-18.pdf

Before anyone accuses me of giving terrorists and lunatics a great new idea, it is more than likely that someone has already come up with the idea and so have the security agencies that protect us. At least they should have anyway.

It now clearer than ever to me that the only way to eliminate the threat posed by fentanyl and its analogs, aside from banning its production, would be to have it classified as a chemical weapon, and heavily restrict its production and distribution as well as the production and distribution of its precursor chemicals.

The Startling Numbers

This will never happen, it simply isn’t a realistic expectation for a number of reasons. In the meantime, until someone can come up with a workable solution to counter this plague, the number of people killed by fentanyl will continue to rise.

Deaths

Here in Alberta the statistics are alarming to say the least. In 2016 out of 803 drug and alcohol poisoning deaths 43% (347) were attributed to fentanyl or its analogs. In 2017 it had increased to 59% (565/951) and in 2018 fentanyl constituted 63% of overdose deaths (622/985).

Of these overdoses 80% involved fentanyl mixed other drugs. 50% involved methamphetamine, 25% cocaine, and 5% heroin. Drug dealers will add fentanyl to other drugs in order to increase their profitability, and as a means of attracting and retaining customers. What usually results however is that their customers wind up dead.

https://open.alberta.ca/dataset/f4b74c38-88cb-41ed-aa6f-32db93c7c391/resource/c23b895d-1922-4d73-86dc-ce170d0a07b3/download/health-alberta-opioid-response-surveillance-report-2019-q2.pdf

Nationally the number is even higher. In 2016 total number of overdose deaths in Canada was 3023, of which 50% were from fentanyl or its analogs. In 2017 it rose to 67% (4120) and was 73% in 2018 (4588). In the first three months of 2019 it was 79%.

The number of overdose deaths increased sharply as well, up 36% from 2016 to 2017 and up 11% from 2017 to 2018.

https://health-infobase.canada.ca/datalab/national-surveillance-opioid-mortality.html#fentanyl

Dollars

Trafficking in fentanyl is a very lucrative business. In fact, it is the most lucrative illicit narcotic currently sold. In 2017, 1 KG of pure fentanyl could be purchased for $4,150. That 1 KG could potentially generate $1,600,000 in revenue for the trafficker, a profit of over 38,000%

By comparison, traffickers will only realize a 1,300% profit off of heroin, or $80,000 in revenue from 1KG of heroin purchased for $6,000.

Fentanyl profitability in the US compared to heroin.

https://www.statista.com/statistics/777882/fentanyl-profitability-in-us-compared-to-heroin/

No Easy Fix

It has been more than a decade since media articles began reporting on what was then called an opioid epidemic, and is now referred to as the “opioid crisis”. In North America, fentanyl has become a threat to public safety unlike any illicit drug before, more than heroin, cocaine, or methamphetamine. It is the most potent and most addictive narcotic there is which also makes it the most dangerous.

Putting an end to this crisis will require action on the part of several governments. There is an ever growing population of opioid addicts who require immediate intervention, but there is currently a critical shortage of treatment facilities. Adding the extra capacity would require taxpayer funding, which would then make it a political issue, and politicians are loathe to spend money on projects from which they will recieve no benefit.

There also needs to be the political will to implement a different strategy to combat the problem. At the moment, efforts are geared more towards harm reduction for addicts. Some jurisdictions have opened safe injection sites, where addicts can do their drugs in a sterile environment and with medical intervention available in the event of an overdose.

There is also a segment of the population who believes that the legalization and regulation of all illicit narcotics is the solution. Many will cite Portugal as an example of success.

Portugal

Portugal in the late 1990’s was dealing with a drug crisis of its own. One percent of its population, 100,000 people, were heroin users and on average more than 350 people a year were dying from a drug overdose. In the early 2000’s, Portugal overhauled its drug laws, decriminalizing small amounts of narcotics for personal use.

The number of overdose deaths has since plummeted, though this is not as a direct result of decriminalization. The Portuguese also recognized that it wasn’t enough to simply decriminalize illicit drugs, they also provided the means for addicts to access treatment, and assisted them as they reintegrated back into society.

If police find you with illicit drugs, you’ll be arrested and taken to a police station where the drugs will be weighed. If the amount is above the strictly enforced threshold limits — designed to be a 10-day supply for personal use, or 25 grams of cannabis, five grams of cannabis resin, two grams of cocaine, or one gram each of ecstasy or heroin — you can be charged as a trafficker. If convicted, jail terms range from one year to 14 years.

If the amount is below the limit, you’ll be sent the following day to the Commission for the Dissuasion of Drug Addiction — even if you’re a tourist. There, you will be interviewed by a psychologist or social worker before appearing before a three-person panel that will offer suggestions aimed at stopping your drug use.

From there, you’re fast-tracked to whatever services you’re willing to accept. If you refuse help, you can be asked to do community service or even, eventually, facing a fine, perhaps even having possessions confiscated and sold to pay the fine.

It’s why Goulão is so quick to point out that Portugal’s success isn’t because of decriminalization. It’s because, in 2001, his country made a commitment to providing whatever its citizens need to be as healthy and as fully engaged in society as possible.

“Decriminalization is not a silver bullet,” he said. “If you decriminalize and do nothing else, things will get worse.

“The most important part was making treatment available to everybody who needed it for free. This was our first goal.”

DAPHNE BRAMHAM 
Daphne Bramham: Decriminalization is no silver bullet, says Portugal’s drug czar
https://vancouversun.com/opinion/columnists/daphne-bramham-decriminalization-is-no-silver-bullet-says-portugals-drug-czar

China: Point of Origin

The precursor chemicals used to synthesize fentanyl and its analogs are manufactured in The People’s Republic of China, and the government places no restrictions on their production or shipping. For the manufacturers the only concern is that they sell their product and make a profit on it, without regard for its end use or the ensuing consequences it may bring. There is also very little likelihood that the Chinese will place any restrictions on the manufacture and distribution of these chemicals, and very little that anyone can do about it. In and of themselves they are not dangerous and do not pose a threat

When I analyze this through the lens of International Relations, I come to some conclusions that many will no doubt disagree with. I may even be labeled as paranoid or a conspiracy theorist, but I will leave it to you to draw your own conclusions.

Strategically speaking it is to China’s benefit that these chemicals be used to synthesize fentanyl. The economic benefit to China is relatively small compared to the strategic benefit. A rapid and dramatic increase in the number of drug addicts within a society will act as a destabilizing force within it, draining resources that could be better used elsewhere.

The Chinese have also lead the way in the synthesis of the most potent and deadly fentanyl analogs, with the potential ability to kill tens of millions of people. There are no conventions banning the research and development of synthetic opioid drugs like there are for chemical weapons or other WMD. Yes, I know that it would be very difficult, and that it would need the proper vehicle for delivery in order to be effective. How are we to know that one hasn’t already been developed, or is being worked on now? Theoretically, they could have already produced enough ohmefentanyl to wipe out half the population of the continental United States. This has the potential to weigh heavily on the global balance of power.

Share This Information

There are no quick and easy fixes to be found here, and people are going to continue dying in ever growing numbers. Individually there isn’t much that any of us can do either, it is something that must be dealt with on a governmental level and frankly, this gives me little hope that a solution will be found any time soon.

A lot of people will die that didn’t have to, people like my brother, and my heart breaks for the families and loved ones that will be left behind. Share this information with the people you know so that as many people as possible are aware of just how very bad the situation is. It is possible that it might one day save a life, perhaps the life of some one you know and love.

Why Andrew Scheer’s Promises To Veterans Are Important

For Canadian mefloquine veterans, it’s at long last some recognition.

Federal Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer was in Prince Edward Island on Sunday, making a promise to clear the benefits backlog for veterans. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Prses (sic))

The Conservatives would also beef up transition services for discharged and retiring Forces members, provide more service dogs, kick-start more commemoration projects and launch an independent inquiry to investigate the cases of members who were given mefloquine. 
Several Forces members have launched a lawsuit against the government because of traumatic side effects from the anti-malaria drug.
They allege they are still suffering from psychosis, paranoia and insomnia.
That investigation would cost $20 million over two years, according to the PBO. Service dog costs are pegged at $4.5 million over three years. 

Scheer promises to clear veterans benefits backlog if elected
https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/scheer-promises-to-clear-veterans-benefits-backlog-if-elected-1.5293109?__vfz=medium%3Dsharebar&fbclid=IwAR0JijRbbFkzwtj-sjEVXcKB3Ic-zpwoMeDkBGZvvc7RsdttSFEjaninDPo

Today’s announcement by Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer was quite significant. To the casual observer it was just another in a series of cynical campaign promises that get trotted out during election season. Funding is pledged for this program and that initiative in ridings across the country.

The most significant part of this particular promise was the pledge to have an independent inquiry called to look into investigate cases of CF members who were given mefloquine. I will take Mr. Scheer at his word on this promise, but I will also applaud him for going where no party leader has heretofore gone. He has acknowledged the fact that mefloquine is a serious issue in the veterans community that warrants investigating.

For the very first time, and due to the tireless efforts of advocates like Marj Matchee and Val Reyes-santiesteban, mefloquine has become an election issue. Marj had the opportunity to meet with Scheer, who is her MP, over the summer at a bar-b-que in his home riding. With her usual determination, she made her way to talk to him, and made an empassioned plea to him. She tells me he held her gaze, and listened intently to her as she made her case to him. He made a promise to her that he would not let our veterans down.

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Today, he followed through on his pledge to her, and I suspect that he will indeed honour his promise should he win the Prime Minister’s office. Regardless, it was incredible news for mefloquine advocacy in Canada. The hard work of Marj Matchee and the many other dedicated advocates inspired by her is starting to bear fruit.

Many of us gathered in Ottawa last Thursday, to hold the Third Annual Veteran’s Mefloquine Rally on Parliament Hill. There, on the lawn in front of the iconic bell tower, I had the great honour and pleasure of opening the rally by introducing Marj, and also had the chance to finally meet with some of the many veterans and advocates whom I have talked to over the past several months.

Val Reyes-santiesteban has also been fighting this battle for a very long time. Her son, Scott Smith, was a member of the Canadian Airborne Regiment and was deployed to Rwanda in 1994 as part of a multinational humanitarian effort. On Christmas Day, 1994, she received a call from Scott. Shortly after he hung up, Scott Smith took his own life.

Since then she has dedicated herself to this advocacy, so that no more mothers ever have to endure what she has had to. No mother should ever have to bury her child.

For the many veterans and advocates who have worked so hard for over two decades to reach this point, this will be a momentous occasion. But, the battle is still far from over for them. There is still the matter of having the government own up to what it did, and to have it provide funding for research to find a treatment or cure for mefloquine toxicity, or quinism.

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It also needs to do the right thing and ban mefloquine, as well as beginning a widespread awareness campaign which would provide information to the public about the dangers posed by mefloquine.

But for right now, this moment belongs to all those who have toiled and struggled for over two decades. It belongs to the thousands of Canadian veterans who were effected directly by mefloquine, and their loved ones and caregivers, but, most especially,it belongs to Marj and Val. It’s a small victory, but at long last, it’s a victory.