(Toronto, Dec. 16, 2019) – The following is a statement from Camille Quenneville, CEO of Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), Ontario Division, regarding the Ontario government’s announcement on opening the cannabis retail market:
“As cannabis becomes more broadly available, CMHA Ontario continues to advocate for a public health approach to cannabis regulation, production and sales. Like all substances, cannabis is associated with health concerns, with most harm facing high-risk users and those who begin using at an early age. Frequent cannabis use is associated with several health complications, such as mild impairments to cognitive functions like memory and attention, increased risk of psychosis, depression and anxiety, as well as respiratory conditions.
“It’s vital that the government place a priority on reducing the harms associated with cannabis use. One way to do this is to provide greater educational opportunities, particularly for young people, given evidence shows that those who start using cannabis early in life or those who consume heavily are at risk for negative impacts later in life.
“With greater access to cannabis, we may experience a greater demand for service from community-based mental health and addictions providers and other health care practitioners. We would encourage government to direct revenue from cannabis sales to fund mental health and addictions services and cannabis-related research to further support a public health approach to this issue.”
In 2017, CMHA Ontario published a government submission detailing an approach to cannabis legalization and regulation that considers public health as the primary objective. CMHA Ontario continues to advocate for a public health approach and encourages the provincial government to consider the role of community-based mental health and addictions care.
About Canadian Mental Health Association, Ontario
Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), Ontario is a not-for-profit, charitable organization funded by the provincial Ministry of Health. We work to improve the lives of all Ontarians through leadership, collaboration and continual pursuit of excellence in community-based mental health and addictions services. Our vision is a society that embraces and invests in the mental health of all people. We are a trusted advisor to government, contributing to health systems development through policy formulation and recommendations that promote positive mental health. Our 30 local CMHA branches, together with community-based mental health and addictions service providers across the province, serve approximately 500,000 Ontarians each year.
For more information, contact:
Canadian Mental Health Association, Ontario
T: 416-977-5580, ext. 4175