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New study proposes public health guidelines to reduce the harms from cannabis use
Date:9/22/2011

For immediate release -- Sept. 22, 2011 (Toronto) -- A new research study conducted by an international team of experts recommends a public health approach to cannabis - including evidence-based guidelines for lower-risk use - to reduce the health harms that result from the use of cannabis. Led by CAMH scientist and CIHR/PHAC* Chair in Applied Public Health (Simon Fraser University, Vancouver) Dr. Benedikt Fischer, the study is being published in the September/October 2011 issue of the Canadian Journal of Public Health (CJPH).

More than one in ten Canadian adults, and about one in three young people aged 16-25, report using cannabis during the past year. Despite the prevalence and health risks associated with cannabis use, the study points out that Canada has not yet taken a public health approach to address its harms, as we have with alcohol, tobacco, and even injection drug use.

"A broad-based public health approach to cannabis use would include a prevention strategy for young people, risk reduction strategies for at-risk users, and better access to treatment for problem users," explains Dr. Fischer. His latest study addresses the risk reduction component, based on a comprehensive review of existent scientific data identifying the preeminent cannabis use patterns and practices leading to key health risks and harms. Based on this evidence, guidelines are offered on how to modify these practices and patterns at the user-level as a public health-oriented policy tool to reduce the harms.

"Misinformation about cannabis can be dangerous," Dr. Fischer explained. For example, surveys show that many young cannabis users believe that it is safe to drive after using cannabis, whereas recent research in Canada shows that a significant number of traffic fatalities in young adults are attributable to cannabis use. "This resembles the situation forty years ago, when the majority of Canadians still believed it was safe to drink and
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Contact: Michael Torres
media@camh.net
Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
Source:Eurekalert

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