Cannabis policy framework

Although cannabis use is risky and some individuals are particularly vulnerable, prohibition has not reduced its use or lessened its harms. Instead, it has worsened the health harms and created costly social ones.

In our latest Research Report Round-up, we provide a summary of the cannabis policy framework released in October 2014 by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH). This report presents conclusions based on a review of the evidence on cannabis control and measures aimed at reducing harm. Read it below or access the PDF.

Research Report Round-ups are brief summaries of research reports, presented in a user-friendly format.

Title and link to report: Cannabis Policy Framework
Authors: Jean‐François Crépault and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
Date: 2014
Location: Toronto, ON

What this report is about

This report presents conclusions based on a review of the evidence on cannabis control and measures aimed at reducing harm:

  • Cannabis use carries significant health risks, especially for people who use it frequently and/or begin to use it at an early age.  
  • Criminalization intensifies these health harms and causes social harms.  
  • A public health approach focused on high‐risk users and practices – similar to the approach favoured with alcohol and tobacco – allows for more control over the risk factors associated with cannabis‐related harm.  
  • Legalization, combined with strict health‐focused regulation, provides an opportunity to reduce the harms associated with cannabis use.  

The report emphasizes that although cannabis use is risky and some individuals are particularly vulnerable, prohibition has not reduced its use or lessened its harms. Instead, it has worsened the health harms and created costly social ones. 

Legalizing and strictly regulating cannabis allows for more control over the risk factors associated with cannabis‐related harm. But legalization must include effective controls on availability and regulations that steer users towards less harmful products and practices. It must also be a part of a comprehensive prevention strategy with interventions aimed at those who are at higher risk of harm, such as youth and people with a personal or family history of mental illness. 

Given that more than one third of young adults are users of cannabis and that Canada’s current approach increases the harms, the report ultimately concludes that it’s time to reconsider the national approach to cannabis control. 

How this report can be used

This report provides evidence with the aim of sparking a discussion about cannabis and measures aimed at reducing harm and support future policy change. 

 

 

 

Key words: Cannabis, marijuana, criminalization, legalization, decriminalization, regulation, substance use, mental health 
Contact person: JF Crépault, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, JeanFrancois [dot] Crepault [at] camh [dot] ca 
Language: English and French