With cannabis sales set for October 17, we need to put health first

AMHO News

June 27, 2018

Last week, the Senate of Canada voted to pass Bill C-45, legalizing recreational cannabis. It can be sold legally beginning October 17, 2018. The rules vary slightly in each province, but in Ontario the legal age of consumption is 19+. There will be a projected 80 storefronts open by the end of 2018, and online sales are also expected.

AMHO supports measures suggested in the new cannabis act and will work closely with members and partners to advocate to the new provincial government for an approach that is evidence-based, minimizes harm and puts health first. For an overview of our recommenations, see our submission to Ontario’s Legalization of Cannabis Secretariat last summer.

Each of AMHO’s 220+ members encounters harmful impacts of cannabis use virtually every day. This is why we support an emphasis on public education, health promotion and prevention along with investments in mental health & addiction services and supports.

“Whether legalization will lead to increased cannabis use or dependence is unclear, and will need to be evaluated. But cannabis already has an impact on our mental health and addiction services, which are under resourced and cannot meet current demand,” says Gail Czukar, AMHO’s CEO.

“With gambling, the province has set a great precedent of the positive effects that can come from earmarking revenues for treatment,” continued Czukar. “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, who face wait times upwards of 4 to 6 months.”

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. AMHO and our members look forward to working with the government as they move forward with implementation of the federal legalization to ensure an approach that will minimize harms and put the health of Ontarians first.