The Ontario government has tabled its cannabis legislation. Cannabis Act, 2017 outlines how the province intends to regulate sale and consumption of cannabis when it’s legal in the summer of 2018.
CMHA Ontario CEO Camille Quenneville issued the following statement in response to the new bill:
“We’re pleased the government has adopted several of CMHA Ontario’s recommendations and is taking a public health and safety approach to the legalization and regulation of cannabis. In our submission to the Ministry of the Attorney General, we advocated for a public health approach, setting 19 as the minimum age and zero tolerance for cannabis use in motorized vehicles.
“We’re particularly pleased that today’s legislation focuses on educating young people about the risks of cannabis use. We are encouraged the government is committed to a comprehensive education campaign but we cannot stress enough that this campaign needs to start as soon as possible so that young people can start thinking about making informed choices.
“We also appreciate the government’s effort to provide youth education or prevention programs as alternatives to enforcement, sanctions or criminalization. Preventing young people from entering the justice system for cannabis possession in small amounts may help to remedy the systemic criminalization of youth from marginalized groups.
“One area where government remains silent, however, is how it will use cannabis-related revenue. CMHA Ontario believes that all revenue from cannabis sales should be earmarked to fund mental health and addictions services, public awareness campaigns, research and enforcement issues. Dedicating funds to mental health and addictions sector can help address historical funding inequities for a subset of health care where demand for service grossly outpaces supply.”
For more information, read CMHA Ontario’s cannabis submission to government.