We also want to ensure that Canadians are well informed through sustained, appropriate public health campaigns, and for youth in particular, to ensure that the risks are understood.
As mentioned earlier, the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction report “Canadian Youth Perceptions on Cannabis” stated, “Overall, youth considered cannabis to be less harmful than alcohol and other substances.”Youth also felt confused about cannabis laws.
We are concerned that there is not enough public awareness about the harmful effects of cannabis. Further research is needed to continue to understand the impact, be it on brain development, pregnant and breastfeeding women, or other areas. We urge the federal government to engage youth in the creation of health promotion materials and strategies targeted to them.
To ensure that the public is fully aware of the harms associated with cannabis use, we recommend that the government develop and implement an evidence-informed public education campaign ahead of the federal legislation being passed. Both general awareness to promote lower-risk cannabis use guidelines and targeted initiatives to raise awareness of the risks among specific groups, such as adolescents, those who are are pregnant, and people with a personal or family history of mental illness, are needed.
It is also crucial that the federal government commit to using a high percentage of revenue gains from the sale of cannabis products as a source of funding for prevention, treatment, harm reduction, and enforcement. Significant funding toward a population approach to mental wellness, stress management, and healthy coping strategies must also be considered.