The initial meeting of the
Non-Potable Alcohol Abuse Coalition Committee took place on November 29,
The formulation of this committee
was a result of a variety of high alcohol, non-potable products being consumed
by street alcoholics as a beverage and the profiteering of some retail
store vendors being considered nothing less than disgusting. These products
included Chinese cooking wine, rubbing alcohol, muscle massage liquid,
Lysol disinfectant spray. various aftershaves and stomach bitters. The
most prevalent product was muscle massage liquid (91% alc/vol) and its
relative. First Step Antiseptic Cleanser liquid (69% alc/vol).
Original members of this
committee were representatives from Main Street Project, Klinic Incorporated/Substance
Abuse Coalition, Manitoba Pharmaceutical Association, a pharmacist/owner
(Broadway Pharmacy). Member of Parliament and the Manitoba Liquor Control
Since then a variety of agencies
have participated to curb the continued abuse of non-potable alcohol problems
and now includes inhalant abuse. The following is an overview of previous
legislation and the progress that the committee has made to date:
May 1978 - Manitoba Regulation 88/78- medicated stomach
bitters regulation requires a maximum four ounce size and is allowed to
be retailed in shops and stores other than those operated by the Commission.
February 1990 - Enactment of the Manitoba Liquor Control Rubbing
Alcohol Regulation 96/90 - restricting the sale of rubbing alcohol
to pharmacy dispensaries.
July 1991 - A house fire in Winnipeg, resulting in two deaths
because of individuals drinking Lysol and a new rubbing alcohol (muscle
massage liquid) product (91% Ethel alcohol) not covered under existing
August 1991 - As the July fire is indicative of the ongoing problem,
Larry Leroux requested that a meeting be held at the Pharmaceutical Association
office to discuss the issue of non-potable alcohol abuse. The new product
involved in the July 1991 fire is manufactured to seemingly side step the
August 1991 - Muscle massage liquid is deemed to fall within
the definition of the Liquor Control Act, Manitoba Regulation
96/90 and must be sold (retail) only by a licensed pharmacist from
a dispensary in a licensed pharmacy
November 29, 1991 - The initial meeting of the Non-Potable Alcohol
Abuse Coalition Committee was to discuss the new product. in particular.
and the consumption of non-potable (non-beverage) alcohol, in general.
December 1991 - Offending product involved in fire and being
consumed as a beverage is now covered under the legislation and restricted
April 1992 - The Manitoba Liquor Control Commission tests cooking
wines and ethnic liquors and deems 24 out of 26 as potable and must; therefore,
only be sold from licensed liquor outlets.
June 1992 - Legislation enacted to prevent the retail sale of
cooking wine in excess of 20% alcohol, prevent sale to individuals
that are intoxicated, broaden the definition non-potable alcohol (to include
items like Lysol and hair spray) and establish minimum fines for individuals
found convicted of selling non-beverage alcohol for consumption.
November 1992 - Coalition starts to examine current legislation
covering "sniff' abuse, as well as continued action on non-potable alcohol
January 1993 - Even with the changes in legislation, the Courts
do not seem to place importance on the cases appearing for the sale of
non-potable alcohol products for consumption. Provincial Minister of Justice
agrees to do an inquiry.
February 1993 - Director of Winnipeg Prosecutions issues a directive
to all Crown Attorneys to place a greater importance and diligence on cases
involving the illegal sale of non-potable alcohol.
April 1993 - As it was never part of the Coalition's efforts
to reform the "street alcoholic", the Manitoba Liquor Control Commission
is asked to decrease prices on fortified wines and open the outlet located
in the core area earlier in the morning.
May 1993 - Early morning opening (08:00 a.m.) of Main &
Manitoba liquor outlet and decreased prices for fortified wines is accomplished
and has a positive impact.
June 1993 - Manufacturer of Lysol brand spray agrees to monitor
and where necessary limit the distribution of their product to retail vendors
that appear problematic and to also perform periodical checks.
September 1993 - The Coalition initiates work to develop an information
kit to retail vendors explaining the issue, legal responsibility and harm
in selling non-potable alcohol as a beverage.
March 1994 - Funding secured for the production of 700 information
kits on the abuse of non-potable alcohol. The Coalition decides to rename
to the Non-Potable Alcohol Abuse Committee.
May 1994 - Committee Chair Larry Leroux, announces the release
of the information kit at a press conference hosted by Winnipeg Police
Service. The covering letter in the kit is prepared in five different languages
as lack of English comprehension is often used by defence lawyers,
November 1994 - Many kits are distributed personally by Winnipeg
Police Service and most of the 700 information kits are distributed throughout
Manitoba by RCMP members, and parts of Canada that have a similar problem.
December 1994 - Monitoring of key court cases results in further
changes to definitions under The Liquor Control Act and Manitoba
Regulations (Manitoba Regulation 210/94).
January 1995 - Committee places greater emphasis on the review of the Minors Intoxicating Substance Control Act. The current provincial legislation is unenforceable to curtail the sale and abuse of' sniff products.
November 1995 - Funding secured and another 2000 non-potable
alcohol information kits, now including a section on inhalant abuse, are
printed for distribution.
February 1996 - Inspection of retail store outlets for Chinese
cooking wine results in no incidents or findings.
April 1996 - Health Minister McCrae writes Minister of Justice
Vodrey to keep anti sniff legislation issue a priority.
May 1996 - Minors Intoxicating Substance Control Act changes
will not go through this year due to the possibility that constitutional
rights may be impacted with the inclusion of adults.
June 1996 - Northern Manitoba retailer is convicted of selling
hair spray as a beverage on a dry reserve for $80.00 a container. He is
sentenced to 15 days in jail.
September 1996 - Early opening of Manitoba Liquor Control Commission
liquor store at Pritchard and Main, adjusts early opening hours from 08:00
a.m. to 09:00 a.m, to satisfy a variety of business concerns in the area.
February 1997 - Proposed amendments to the Minors Intoxicating
Substances Act deemed to jeopardize the constitutionality of the legislation.
March 1997 - Minister of Justice, Vic Toews, acknowledges the
seriousness of the issue and assigns Glen Lewis, Program and Policy Consultant
to facilitate the short and long term goals of the Committee in Combating
June 1997 - Gord MacKintosh. NDP - MLA, introduces Bill 106 calling
for amendments to the Minors Intoxicating Substances Control Act
and is rejected due to the Minister of Justice, Vic Toew's view that it'
s essentially criminal law and that is Ottawa's jurisdiction.
December 1997 - Non Potable Alcohol Abuse Committee discusses
the hosting of a national conference on Non-Potable Alcohol and Inhalants.
February 1998 - Steering Committee is formed for hosting the
August 1998 - Response received from Honourable Anne McLellan,
Minister of Justice and Attorney General indicating that a Federal/Provincial/Territorial
Multi-Disciplinary Committee of senior officials have been established
to develop responses to illicit drug use and emerging abuse problems.
November 1998 - Committee name changed to Non-Potable Alcohol
and Inhalant Abuse Committee.
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