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

drive," said Dr. Fischer.

"Cannabis is not a benign drug." Dr. Fischer continued. "The evidence linking patterns of use and problems is strong. We can use this evidence to provide straightforward, factual information to cannabis users and their families, friends or peers, on how to reduce the risks for problems, and to create screening tools for health professionals to help address the risks."

Some of the harmful practices and patterns of use documented in the study include:

  • Cannabis use at a young age Longitudinal studies suggest that using cannabis from a young age can be associated with a number of problems, including mental illness and dependence. While most cannabis users will not progress to other illicit substance use, those who use cannabis from a young age are far more likely to make this transition.
  • Frequent use - Using cannabis often, usually defined as daily or near-daily use, has been linked to a variety of health problems, including cognitive and memory performance, or risk for dependence.
  • Cannabis use before driving - Recent data suggests that approximately five percent of Canadian adult drivers report driving after cannabis use in the past year, and high school student surveys show that more students drive after cannabis use than after drinking alcohol. It is recommended that anyone using cannabis should not drive for three to four hours after consumption.
  • Cannabis use during pregnancy - While the possible consequences of cannabis use during pregnancy have not been reliably distinguished from the potentially confounding impact of alcohol and tobacco use, there is sufficient scientific basis to recommend abstinence from cannabis use during pregnancy.

"A key message is that the most reliable way to avoid cannabis-related harms is to abstain from use," said Dr. Fischer. "Those who do use cannabis need to be advised about patterns of use to avoid problems in the short and
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Contact: Michael Torres
media@camh.net
Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
Source:Eurekalert

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