Public Release: 

If cannabis use increases after legalization, government must alter the act

Canadian Medical Association Journal

If cannabis use increases after legalization of recreational cannabis on October 17, the Government of Canada should commit to changing the act to prevent negative health effects, argues an editorial in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal) http://www.cmaj.ca/lookup/doi/10.1503/cmaj.181287.

"Given the known and unknown health hazards of cannabis, any increase in use of recreational cannabis after legalization, whether by adults or youth, should be viewed as a failure of this legislation," writes Dr. Diane Kelsall, Editor-in-Chief (Interim), CMAJ.

Health Canada reports that cannabis, a drug that is currently illegal for recreational purposes, will create issues in about one in three adult users and addiction in almost one in 10, with youth being more susceptible to negative effects.

"The decision by the federal government to legalize cannabis sends a clear message to Canadians that its use is acceptable," Dr. Kelsall writes.

For Bill C-45 to fulfill its aim to ensure public health under legalization, the government must be vigilant in tracking cannabis usage, providing adequate funding to do this in all jurisdictions as well as to conduct research into harms.

"Finally, if the use of cannabis increases, the federal government should have the courage to admit the legislation is flawed and amend the act. Canadians -- and the world -- will be watching," the editorial concludes.

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A related research article looking at the effects of smoked cannabis on driving in young people aged 18 to 24 years is published in CMAJ Open http://www.cmajopen.ca. on October 15.

CMAJ Open: "Cannabis use and driving-related performance in young recreational users: a within-subject randomized clinical trial"

CMAJ Cannabis collection: http://www.cmaj.ca/medical_marijuana

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