Pubdate: Tue, 15 Aug 2017
Source: Toronto 24hours (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Canoe Inc.
Author: Antonella Artuso
Page: 8


There should be zero tolerance for pot use by drivers or their
passengers, a new report by the Canadian Mental Health Association
Ontario branch recommends.

The report, Cannabis Legalization and Regulation, also says that all
marijuana revenue should go to fund mental health and addiction
services, and that the minimum age to purchase the product should be
19 years old.

"The risk is that legalization of cannabis may lead to an increase in
use among Ontarians," Camille Quenneville, CEO of CMHA Ontario, said
in a statement Monday. "When taken together, our recommendations can
minimize the harms associated with cannabis use and support a public
health approach to this issue."

As the Justin Trudeau government gets set to legalize pot by July
2018, CMHA Ontario prepared a report for the provincial government
with recommendations on how to go forward.

The report says marijuana legalization should be viewed through a
public health lens.

CMHA Ontario anticipates an increased need for mental health and
addiction support services with legal pot, especially for youth and
heavy consumers "ranging from brief interventions for at-risk users to
more intensive interventions," as well as extensive public education

The "most concerning" issue is driving high, with data already showing
that an estimated 10.4 million vehicle trips a year involve a motorist
that had used marijuana, the report says.

Testing for drug-impaired driving may not accurately reflect the level
of impairment, it says.

"Because the technology to detect an individual's level of impairment
due to cannabis is still in development at this time, CMHA Ontario
recommends a zero-tolerance policy for cannabis consumption in any
motorized vehicle in order to ensure road safety during this time of
transition," the report says. "A zero-tolerance policy would include
both the driver of the motorized vehicle, as well as any passengers in
the car. It is important that a clear message be sent to the public as
soon as possible regarding zero tolerance for impaired driving due to
cannabis use."

While the Canadian Medical Association, which represents the nation's
doctors, called for a minimum legal pot-buying age of 21, CMHA Ontario
suggested the lower age of 19.

"Frequent cannabis use can harm a developing brain and there is no
evidence that supports a specific age when cannabis use is safe for
young people," the report says. "However, there are concerns that a
higher minimum age may contribute to young people accessing cannabis
from illegal sources. Establishing a higher minimum age standard will
be less effective in undermining the black market, and may leave youth
both criminalized and reliant on it."
- ---
MAP posted-by: Matt