After months of study and debate, the Senate has passed Bill C-45, making cannabis sales legal in Canada on Oct 17, 2018.
According to a Toronto Star article, the provinces will have two to three months time to implement the sale of recreational cannabis.
Bill C-45 makes Canada the first industrialized country to legalize cannabis nationwide.
The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Ontario Division has advised the provincial government on the implementation of Bill C-45. While cannabis legalization will impact many areas of society, CMHA Ontario strongly encourages the discussion be viewed from a public health perspective.
“The risk is that legalization of cannabis may lead to an increase in use among Ontarians,” said Camille Quenneville, CEO of CMHA Ontario. “When taken together our recommendations can minimize the harms associated with cannabis use and support a public health approach to this issue.”
In its recommendations report to government, CMHA Ontario highlights critical areas to consider during implementation. Recommendations include:
- Zero tolerance for cannabis use by drivers and passengers in motorized vehicles.
- Establish a regulatory agency, such as a Cannabis Control Board, to issue permits, production, sale, service and consumption of cannabis in Ontario. This agency would be similar to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission or the previous Liquor License Board of Ontario.
- Education for those that distribute cannabis to consumers through a Cannabis Card program, like Ontario’s Smart Serve program.
- Strict rules on advertising and marketing cannabis products, like current restrictions on tobacco products.
CMHA Ontario’s recommendations align with a harm reduction perspective. Harm reduction can be defined as an evidence-based, client-centred approach that seeks to reduce the health and social harms associated with substance use, without necessarily requiring people who use substances from abstaining or stopping.