Pubdate: Fri, 21 Apr 2017
Source: Regina Leader-Post (CN SN)
Copyright: 2017 The Leader-Post Ltd.
Author: Jonathan Charlton
Page: A4


The era of legal weed will require broad investments in public health,
according to the Saskatchewan Medical Association.

Legislation alone is inadequate, president Dr. Intheran Pillay said.

"I think expanding the access to support services such as mental
health and substance use services would be important. I think it would
be important to expand access to training programs in addiction
medicine and I think it's important to make extensive educational
resources on the risks of harm to youth and others available, as well."

The SMA also endorses its parent organization's 22 recommendations to
government to help protect individual and public health.

The Canadian Medical Association report says a public health approach
would focus on preventing drug abuse and dependence, availability of
assessment, harm reduction for users, and counselling and treatment
services for those who wish to stop using.

The lifetime risk of marijuana dependence is estimated at about nine
per cent, increasing to almost 17 per cent in people who start using
it in adolescence, according to research cited in the report. By
comparison, the risk is 15 per cent for alcohol, 23 per cent for
heroin and 32 per cent for nicotine.

There's strong evidence that heavy use of cannabis can lead to
psychosis, and teens who smoke pot frequently suffer from long lasting
brain damage, including memory, attention and executive function,
Pillay said.

A small New Zealand study found smoking three joints a day is the
equivalent to smoking a pack of cigarettes a day. The study also found
the incidence of lung cancer is seven times higher than with regular
cigarettes, Pillay said.

Other studies have looked at how to make pot safer by regulating its
THC content and increasing the tax on higher percentages, he said.
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