Canada’s largest mental health and addiction center came out in support of marijuana legalization on Oct. 9 — a move that surprised many onlookers.
The Toronto-based Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, a leading research center in the field of addiction, “recommends a legalization with strict regulation approach to cannabis control,” according to a news release dated Oct. 9.
“Cannabis is not a benign substance, especially for those who use it in large amounts or regularly,” Dr. Peter Selby, chief of addictions and a clinician scientist at CAMH, said in a video (above). “It affects the linings of the lungs, so how you breathe. It affects the way you think. And it can certainly affect the way you feel about things. Moreover it can lead to an addiction.”
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According to CAMH, Canada has one of the highest rates of marijuana use in the world. They estimate 40 percent of Canadians have used pot at some point in their lifetime, and they also project that 22 percent of high school students and 34 percent of young adults in Ontario use marijuana.
The organization is pushing controlled legalization via 10 principles, which include a government monopoly on pot sales, a minimum age for partaking, a ban on marketing or advertising and a price structure that will encourage buyers to leave the black market.
“Canada’s current system of cannabis control is failing to prevent or reduce the harms associated with cannabis use,” Dr. Jürgen Rehm, director of the Social and Epidemiological Research Department at CAMH, said in the video. “Based on a thorough review of the evidence, we believe that legalization combined with strict regulation of cannabis is the most effective means of reducing the harms associated with its use.”
As Rehm said, a lot of research went into this decision. Quoting CAMH directly: “CAMH scientists and policy experts conducted in-depth analysis of the health, social, and legal implications of cannabis use and examined cannabis policy in other jurisdictions.”