Pubdate: Tue, 26 Sep 2017
Source: St. Thomas Times-Journal (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Sun Media
Author: Louis Pin
Page: 4


By this time next year cannabis - or marijuana, pot, or hash - will be
legal in Canada, and public health units like the one in Elgin-St.
Thomas are bracing for impact.

They released an updated set of safer-use guidelines last week in an
effort to inform public opinion before the drug becomes legal. The
ESTHU guidelines are a clearer version based off the official,
reported guideline package released in June by the Centre for
Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto.

"It uses words that … lay people wouldn't use or I wouldn't even use,"
said Jacky Allan, with ESTHU. "Why don't we just speak normally to

Though cannabis is illegal in Canada CAMH reports 10 per cent of
adults and 25 per cent of adolescents have used the substance in the
last year. The agency released safer-use guidelines around 2011 and
later updated them in light of the federal government's decision to
legalize cannabis.

Those guidelines have been published in the American Journal of Public

But numerous public health units expressed concern that the scientific
language in the document would make it less useful to the general
public when cannabis is legalized July 2018.

"That feedback has been fed back up the chain," Allan said. "When we
had a provincial [teleconference] a lot of people said … it's
confusing, right?

"We've been working together saying let's make sure we're all giving
the same message," she added. "We're all working on this together."

Risks when smoking or consuming cannabis include problems with
thinking, memory, or co-ordination. It can also lower reaction time
making driving less safe, and can cause breathing or lung problems.

Ways to avoid short-term and long-term effects include waiting until
you're older to use cannabis, avoiding synthetic, man-made varieties,
and using a vaporizer.

The ESTHU released a set of guidelines in June but has updated it
since then.

"One of the things I added is … where should you call if you're
looking for some help?" Allan said. "It's really great to know what
the risks are and how you can lower them but what if you're already in
trouble? … we've added on there the local number we usually encourage
people to call."

That number is 1-866-933-2023. It's a local number and can be used to
get information on cannabis use or to get help before, during, or
after consuming the substance.

For a list of guidelines search for cannabis at

"Talk to your families, talk to your kids," Allan said. "Don't wait;
we should be having conversations anyhow … that's the best way to
prevent issues is to talk about them before they happen."

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[side bar]

Ways to lower health risks when using cannabis

 From Elgin-St. Thomas Public Health, some tips on minimizing health
risks associated with cannabis consumption include:

- - wait until you are an adult before using

- - use less-potent (lower THC) cannabis

- - avoid synthetic, man-made versions

- - use a vaporizer if possible

- - do not inhale deeply or hold your breath while smoking

- - do not use cannabis daily

- - wait at least six hours after using cannabis to drive
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MAP posted-by: Matt