April 13, 2017
“Today’s federal legislation on cannabis presents the Government of Ontario with an opportunity to put health first.
My recommendation to Ontario is simple: use evidence, promote health, and address cannabis-related problems head-on.
To put health first, we need to use evidence to address the problems we know are associated with cannabis use. Not only should we commit to using revenue derived from the sale of a legal product to promote health, through public education initiatives and addiction treatment, but we need to make investments in these areas up front.
Legalization presents the opportunity to increase awareness and education, using public health principles, about the known harms and risks of frequent and early cannabis use. The harms associated with cannabis are well documented, although not well known by most people, especially youth.
Early and repeated use by young people is linked to a broad range of health and social problems, including serious mental health disorders. Driving while impaired by cannabis has grave consequences. Cannabis dependence problems are inadequately addressed, while Ontario’s publicly-supported addiction programs are significantly under-funded. Ontarians seeking help for substances are looking at wait times of months to years to access treatment.
With gambling, the province has a great precedent of the good that can come from earmarking revenues for education, prevention and treatment. Thanks to this dedicated funding stream, people seeking help for gambling related problems can receive prompt access to treatment. This is sadly not the case for people looking for help with substances.
Addictions and Mental Health Ontario, which represents organizations who provide publicly funded mental health and addiction services and supports, looks forward to the opportunity to advise the government on implementation of cannabis legalization.
Over the past year government policy has struggled to keep pace with changes in opioid use. Delays have had deadly consequences. With cannabis, we have an opportunity to put health first right from the start. But the work needs to start today.”
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About Addictions and Mental Health Ontario
AMHO represents over 220 community addictions and mental health care organizations across Ontario. Our members provide services and supports that help Ontarians across the province with their recovery, including counselling and case management, peer support and family support, employment services, residential treatment, withdrawal management, supportive housing and hospital based programs. As the collective voice of our members, we provide leadership and engage partners to build a comprehensive and accessible system of addiction and mental health care, and improve the well-being of individuals, families and communities in Ontario. We do this through policy work, advocacy initiatives, service development, knowledge exchange, education offerings and quality improvement work.
For more information, or to arrange an interview with Gail Czukar, please contact:
Communications and Public Affairs Officer
Addictions and Mental Health Ontario
T: 416-490-8900 ext. 229