Pubdate: Wed, 14 Aug 2019
Source: Victoria Times-Colonist (CN BC)
Copyright: 2019 Times Colonist
Authors: Stephanie Lake and M-J Milroy


Re: "Legalizing pot is proving to be a public-health disaster," column, 
Aug. 11.

In his opinion piece on cannabis legalization, Lawrie McFarlane cites
a short-term increase in the numbers of adolescents visiting emergency
rooms for cannabis in Colorado - a jurisdiction with a commercialized
approach to cannabis legalization - as evidence that Canada's much
more restrictive public health-oriented approach to legalization has

However, as scientists who have carefully considered how to best
measure the public-health impacts of cannabis legalization, we would
suggest a thorough and ongoing analysis of Canadian data is needed to
understand the effects of the new regulatory landscape. Although
cannabis-related hospital visits should be a priority, we also need to
ask important questions about underlying causes: if we see an
increase, how much is due to increasing use among youth, and how much
could be related to shifting trends in products/modes of
administration (e.g., a shift towards high-THC concentrates, increased
edible consumption)?

What impact might legalization and de-stigmatization have on the
willingness of people to seek medical care for cannabis-related
concerns? Understanding these details will help us make policy
adjustments and develop appropriate messaging around safer consumption
of cannabis for at-risk populations.

McFarlane's assertion that reverting back to cannabis prohibition
would alleviate potential negative public-health outcomes does not
line up with current scientific evidence. Age-appropriate,
evidence-based and non-judgmental education incorporating harm
reduction is our best tool to address high-risk cannabis use among

Stephanie Lake PhD candidate, UBC School of Population and Public

M-J Milroy Canopy Growth professor of cannabis science, UBC
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