Legalizing marijuana

Doctors Nova Scotia’s Policy and Health Issues Committee (PHIC) has been following the issue of legalizing marijuana since changes were proposed in 2015.

PHIC provided feedback on the discussion paper titled Toward the Legalization, Regulation and Restriction of Access to Marijuana prepared by the Government of Canada’s Task Force on Marijuana Legalization and Regulation. Feedback provided included:
  1. Minimize the harms of use
    Especially the restrictions on advertising, mandatory health messaging, minimum age for legal purchase, restrictions on marijuana products, and public health campaigns
  2. Establish a safe and responsible production system
    Particularly good production practices, and product packaging (child-proof) and labelling that minimizes potential harm by clearly indicating the contents as well as potential health risks/warnings
  3. Design an appropriate distribution system
    Physicians would support the distribution system that best protects their patients and the public
  4. Enforce public safety and protection
    Physicians would support enforcement that protects their patients and the public and is complemented by public education campaigns that emphasize the risks associated with marijuana use
  5. Accessing marijuana for medical purposes
    As mentioned previously, physicians had no concerns about the dismantling of the current medical marijuana system. They will still have a role in educating patients about the pros and cons of marijuana use, and informally “prescribing” marijuana if appropriate. Physicians would have a new role focused on education and health promotion, similar to their approach to tobacco and alcohol use.
Physicians also recommended that the Government of Canada’s Task Force on Marijuana Legalization and Regulation take into account the recommendations from Centre for Addiction and Mental Health’s Policy Framework Recommendations when developing legislation to legalize marijuana.