OTTAWA, Ontario, Nov. 10, 2017 /Weed Wire/ — The Government of Canada introduced legislation to legalize, strictly regulate and restrict access to cannabis to keep it out of the hands of Canadian youth and the profits from criminals and organized crime. With this in mind, the Government is developing a sustained public education campaign to help ensure that factual, evidence-based information about the health and safety risks of cannabis is available to Canadians. Health Canada recognizes that collaborating with key stakeholders across the country is essential to reaching our target audiences and addressing specific regional needs.
Today, Health Canada hosted a one-day public education symposium with approximately 90 representatives from federal, provincial and territorial governments, Indigenous groups, and health and other partner organizations that play a role in raising awareness and educating Canadians about the health and safety risks of cannabis use.
Participants shared insights on successes, proven practices, and challenges in raising awareness and educating the public on risks to health and safety. These insights informed discussions on the development of evidence-based content for cannabis public education campaigns as well as tools and strategies to effectively reach target audiences. Participants also discussed priority areas for action and opportunities for partnerships in raising awareness and educating the public about the potential health and safety risks of cannabis use.
“Making sure Canadians know the real facts about cannabis use is my priority. I am pleased to see continued close collaboration and support from national partners for this important undertaking. By working together, we can maximize the reach and impact of our efforts across Canada to educate Canadians, particularly youth and young adults, about the health and safety risks of cannabis use.”
-The Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor
Minister of Health
“Evidence shows that there are a range of health risks associated with cannabis use, with youth and pregnant women being particularly vulnerable to its harms. At today’s partnership symposium, representatives from all levels of government and civil society discussed the importance of reaching Canadians with relevant and fact-based information. By aligning our efforts, we can ensure Canadians have consistent and quality information to help them make informed choices.”
-Dr. Theresa Tam
Chief Public Health Officer of Canada
-The current approach to cannabis does not work. Canada has one of the highest rates of cannabis use in the world: 21% of youth (ages 15 to 19) and 30% of young adults (ages 20 to 24) reported using cannabis in the past year. And only 40% of youth and 27% of young adults reported that they believed that frequent cannabis use presents risks to their health.
-Participants in the symposium included:
*Provinces and territories
*Health professional organizations
*Research and substance use organizations
*Impaired driving organizations
*Federal partners (including Health Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada, Public Safety Canada and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police)
-The Government of Canada has announced an investment of $46M over the next 5 years for public education, awareness and surveillance activities to inform Canadians of the health and safety risks of cannabis use.
-Beginning in 2018, Health Canada’s Substance Use and Addictions Program (SUAP) is dedicating $3M annually for cannabis public education and awareness initiatives. This funding would be open to organizations that meet the criteria for SUAP funding.
-The Canadian Institutes of Health Research have issued a Catalyst Grant focusing on the health and social impacts of cannabis legalization and regulation in Canada. This grant of $1M will, in part, support research to understand how specific groups—such as youth, Indigenous peoples or persons living with mental health issues or problematic substance use—may be affected by cannabis legalization and regulation and how to maximize benefits and minimize harm to those groups through public education and other strategies.
Office of Ginette Petitpas Taylor
Minister of Health
Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada