Toronto – Now that it will be available to the Ontario public as of Oct. 17th, the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), Ontario Division believes more education is necessary to reduce the harms associated with cannabis use.
“Learning more about the impact of cannabis use is among the most effective ways to lessen harmful impacts of consumption, especially when we’re talking about young people and frequent consumers,” said Camille Quenneville, CEO, CMHA Ontario.
“Adolescents are particularly at risk for cannabis-related harms since their brains are still developing. And research indicates frequent use of cannabis, especially the younger a person begins to use it, is associated with health complications including mild impairments to memory, attention, and other cognitive functions.”
“CMHA Ontario welcomes the opportunity to work with government and other partners to enhance public awareness campaigns about health risks associated with cannabis,” Quenneville said.
CMHA Ontario recommends several other ways to take a public health approach to reduce harms associated with cannabis consumption. These include:
- Taking a zero-tolerance approach for the consumption of cannabis in any motorized vehicle, including drivers and passengers of any age. This is because the technology to detect an individual’s impairment because of cannabis is still in development.
- Restricting consumption to private residences and not allowing it in public places and workplaces.
- Strict rules on advertising and marketing cannabis products, like current restrictions on tobacco products.
- Maintaining 19 as the minimum age to purchase recreational cannabis as it aligns with the legal age for alcohol sales.
- Minimum education standards for cannabis sales staff so they are knowledgeable about the impact of cannabis and over-consumption. This can be through the implementation of a Cannabis Card program, similar to the Smart Serve program for alcohol sales.
- Directing revenue from cannabis sales to fund mental health and addictions services to further support a public health approach to this issue.
The recommendations are in a CMHA Ontario report provided to the Ontario government last year as the province was considering ways to implement the federal plan to legalize cannabis
For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:
Canadian Mental Health Association, Ontario
416-977-5580 ext. 4141