Pubdate: Thu, 09 Oct 2014
Source: Hamilton Spectator (CN ON)
Copyright: 2014 The Hamilton Spectator
Author: Sheryl Ubelacker
Referenced: CAMH releases new Cannabis Policy Framework:


Canada's largest mental health and addiction treatment and research
centre is calling for the legalization of marijuana, with strict
controls that would govern who could buy weed, from where, and in what

In a policy statement released Thursday, the Centre for Addiction and
Mental Health in Toronto said cannabis should be sold through a
government-controlled monopoly and with limited availability and an
age limit, possibly through outlets similar to provincially operated
liquor stores. "Legalization means that we remove all penalties for
cannabis possession and use by adults," said Jurgen Rehm, director of
social and epidemiological research at CAMH.

"Canada's current system of cannabis control is failing to prevent or
reduce the harms associated with cannabis use," he said Wednesday.
"Based on a thorough review of the evidence, we believe that
legalization combined with strict regulation of cannabis is the most
effective means of reducing the harms associated with its use."

Those harms include respiratory diseases such as lung cancer, the risk
of death or disability from motor vehicle accidents, and deleterious
effects on cognition, particularly among pot-smoking adolescents
because their brains are still developing.

Given its potential harms, legalizing and controlling the sale of
marijuana in Canada is an important public health measure, Rehm stressed.

Although possessing pot is illegal, a significant proportion of
Canadians still use the herb. In f act, Canada has one of the highest
rates of cannabis use in the world, with 40 per cent of Canadians
having used it at least once in their lifetime.

Ian Culbert, executive-director of the Canadian Public Health
Association, welcomed the call for legalization by CAMH.

"The war on drugs has failed and it has done more damage than any
possible good," said Culbert. "So we have to take a different approach.

"Society isn't overnight going to embrace this idea of legalization
and regulation, so it's a conversation that we have to have." 
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