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Potential harms from legalization of recreational cannabis use in Canada

  • Sarah B. Windle
  • Kristina Wade
  • Kristian B. Filion
  • Jonathan Kimmelman
  • Brett D. Thombs
  • Mark J. EisenbergEmail author
Commentary

Abstract

With the recent legalization of recreational cannabis use in Canada, questions remain concerning optimal regulation to minimize harms and ensure public health and safety. Patterns of use are subject to change following legalization, and it is important to consider the potential adverse effects that this may have on public health. Important areas of consideration are methods of consumption (e.g., vaping, edibles) and product proliferation; acute and long-term health and behavioural effects (including impaired driving); and use in vulnerable groups, such as children and youth, pregnant women, individuals with mental illness, individuals with low socio-economic status, and Indigenous populations. To support harm reduction measures and evidence-based policy, there is a need to anticipate the potential ramifications that legalization of recreational cannabis use may have on public health in Canada.

Keywords

Cannabis Health legislation Public health Vulnerable populations 

Résumé

L’usage récréatif du cannabis a été légalisé récemment au Canada, mais des questions demeurent sur la réglementation optimale pour réduire les préjudices et assurer la santé et la sécurité du public. Comme les tendances de consommation pourraient changer après la légalisation, il importe de tenir compte des éventuels effets indésirables que cela pourrait avoir sur la santé publique. Il faudra notamment considérer les méthodes de consommation (p. ex. vapotage, ingestion) et la prolifération des produits; les effets immédiats et à long terme sur la santé et les comportements (dont la conduite avec facultés affaiblies); ainsi que la consommation dans les groupes vulnérables comme les enfants et les jeunes, les femmes enceintes, les personnes atteintes de maladies mentales, les personnes de faible statut socioéconomique et les populations autochtones. Pour soutenir les mesures de réduction des méfaits et l’élaboration de politiques fondées sur les données probantes, il est nécessaire de prévoir les ramifications possibles de la légalisation de l’usage récréatif du cannabis sur la santé publique au Canada.

Mots-clés

Cannabis Législation sanitaire Santé publique Populations vulnérables 

Notes

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Copyright information

© The Canadian Public Health Association 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Lady Davis InstituteJewish General HospitalMontrealCanada
  2. 2.Departments of Medicine and of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational HealthMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada
  3. 3.Biomedical Ethics UnitMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada
  4. 4.Departments of Psychiatry, of Psychology, and of Educational and Counselling PsychologyMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada
  5. 5.Division of Cardiology, Jewish General HospitalMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada

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