Pubdate: Sat, 18 Nov 2017
Source: Toronto Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 The Toronto Star
Author: Rob Ferguson
Page: A10


With legalization looming, doctors say province not ready to handle

Ontario is slow to launch a public education campaign warning parents
about the dangers of marijuana to children, which include the risk
associated with second-hand pot smoke, the Pediatricians Alliance of
Ontario warned Friday.

"A lot more children are going to be exposed . . . They are the most
at risk of harm. Their brains are still developing," Dr. Hirotaka
Yamashiro said. "Ontario is not ready to deal with the risks."

Health Minister Eric Hoskins, a physician, has said a public-education
campaign is being prepared for all age groups to make everyone aware
of the dangers.

"There's strong evidence that the brain continues to develop up until
roughly the age of 25 and evidence that cannabis use can negatively
impact that," he told reporters earlier this year.

With legalization looming next July across Canada, this province needs
to move more quickly, Dr. Sharon Burey, a behavioural pediatrician
from Windsor, said in a news conference at Queen's Park.

"We're already starting too late," said Burey, who added that
marijuana use can cause changes to the brain, leading to poor
performance in school, higher incidence of depression, anxiety and
mental illness, and serve as a gateway for teens to smoking tobacco
and the consumption of other drugs.

The Pediatricians Alliance called on the government to fund research
on the impact of marijuana use on families and children after pot is
legalized for Ontarians 19 and older. There is no research now on the
long-term effects of acute marijuana exposure in children.

The alliance cited statistics from Children's Hospital Colorado, which
found a four-fold "spike" in marijuana-related emergency room visits
when recreational cannabis became legal in that state in 2014,
compared with the number 10 years earlier.

Ontario recently introduced legislation detailing how marijuana will
be sold in government-controlled stores.
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