Clearing the Smoke on Cannabis and its Legalization

Health effects of cannabis use

Cannabis also known by many other names including; marijuana, hash, weed, pot, is set to be legalized by July 1, 2018.  Although many of the details around the distribution and sale of cannabis remain unknown until released by the Federal Government; from the consulting process what we do know are the two areas of greatest focus will be: 1 – marketing and 2 – impaired driving. The purpose of legalization is to reduce the harms linked with using the drug.

The details of legalization that are known:

  1. The sale of marijuana will be restricted to those over the age of 18, but provinces will have the power to increase this age if they choose
  2. New fines and/or jail time for anyone who chooses to sell marijuana to underage youth
  3. The medical marijuana program will continue how it currently exists

Although survey results show some youth view cannabis as being natural, safe, and not addictive, the evidence suggests cannabis use can have long term negative consequences, particularly on brain development.  From research conducted by the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse and Addiction, regular youth cannabis use can result in behavioural and cognitive impairments such as poor academic performance and challenges focusing.  The worst part is these deficits can continue even after cannabis use is stopped. Regular cannabis use has also been linked to mental illness in youth which includes; depression, anxiety and suicidal behaviours.

This is what we know about cannabis use so far, but as research continues we will better understand the perceptions, risks, and impacts of all types of cannabis use.