AFM News Release
As the federal government continues to move towards legalizing marijuana, the Addictions Foundation of Manitoba (AFM) is urging in a position statement released today that a public health approach matched with strict regulation is fundamental to minimizing the risks and harms of cannabis use, particularly on children and youth.
“As a provincial leader in addictions services, the AFM has an important role to support the public in preventing the harms and risks associated with cannabis use, by providing evidence based prevention, education and treatment services,” said Damon Johnston, Chair, AFM Board of Governors.
The statement was approved by the AFM’s Board of Governors after an extensive consultation process with both external and AFM health and addictions experts. Rather than focussing on the question of legalization, the AFM consultations addressed the critical factors to consider once cannabis is legalized.
The position statement notes that the legalization of cannabis has many complex layers that need to be addressed by government, including how the drug is produced, distributed and used. Of particular concern are the age of purchase and the effects of cannabis on the developing brains of children and youth.
“The legalization of non-medical cannabis in Canada has the potential to increase the use of the drug as well as the associated harms and risks from heavy use including damage to brain development, psychiatric illness, addiction and poor performance in school,” said Dr. Sheri Fandrey, Knowledge Exchange Lead, AFM. “There is a common misconception that cannabis is a harmless substance but we know that its use can be associated with health, social, legal and economic harms.”
Dr. Fandrey added that a comprehensive public health approach with strong regulation can reduce the risks, especially risks to young people and that it is important to ensure that Manitobans fully understand these risks and harms of cannabis use so they can make informed decisions.
The AFM projects that legalization could lead to increased use of cannabis, and subsequently lead to increased demand for addiction treatment services.
To read the Position Statement click here: afm-legalization-of-non-medical-cannabis-position-statement