September 8, 2017
(TORONTO, September 8, 2017) – Please see below for a statement from Gail Czukar, CEO of Addictions and Mental Health Ontario (AMHO) in response to today’s announcement on cannabis legalization.
“Ontario’s approach to the federal legalization of cannabis is on the right track. It focuses on public health and reducing the known harms surrounding cannabis, especially for youth.
As it stands, cannabis related harms are severely under-addressed in Ontario.
Whether legalization will lead to increased cannabis use or dependence is unclear, and will need to be evaluated. But cannabis is already the presenting drug dependence issue for about one-third of the cases that are reported by Ontario’s specialized addiction treatment services. Ontarians seeking help for substances through publicly-funded programs are looking at wait times of months to years to access treatment.
That’s why AMHO recommends that the government both invest upfront as well as earmark future revenues to be invested in greater capacity for addiction and mental health services, in addition to public education and prevention.
With gambling, the province has a precedent of the good that can come from earmarking revenues for 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.
With cannabis legalization, we have a chance to improve health outcomes and ensure Ontarians with substance use challenges and dependence can promptly access the services and supports they need.”
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About Addictions and Mental Health Ontario
AMHO represents over 220 addictions and mental health care organizations across Ontario. Our members provide services and supports that help Ontarians across the province, 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. 8