As the Government of Ontario moves towards legalizing and regulating cannabis, CMHA Ontario and our local branches strongly advise an approach that considers public health as the primary objective.
That’s the message CMHA Ontario sent to the Standing Committee on Social Policy, which met Oct. 11 and 12 at Queens Park to hear deputations about Bill 36, the proposed legislation on the use and sale of cannabis products in Ontario. Aside from CMHA Ontario, the committee heard wide ranging presentations from the mental health sector, cannabis retailers, investors, producers and the business community.
CMHA Ontario’s public health approach to cannabis regulation and sales further recommends that the province consider the crucial role of community-based mental health and addictions agencies.
For example, government should consult with CMHAs and other mental health and addictions service providers to develop and implement a comprehensive public awareness campaign regarding cannabis associated risks so that Ontarians can make informed decisions related to cannabis consumption.
This is especially important when considering youth, which is why CMHA Ontario recommends developing a robust public education campaign beginning at young age with age-appropriate content. The campaign should also originate from a harm-reduction lens and be created with the input of youth.