Cannabis became legal for non-medical use by adults in Canada on October 17, 2018. Legalization is, in and of itself, a major step towards harm reduction.  While the health risks of non-medical cannabis use are likely lower than for tobacco and alcohol, a number of public health harms associated with non-medical cannabis have been identified. These potential harms include respiratory effects, cannabis use disorder, mental health issues, impaired driving, and accidental overdose.

Following the move to legalize cannabis, a number of laws and policies have been proposed to address these health risks including a minimum age of consumption, restrictions on the ability to grow cannabis at home, restrictions on driving, taxes on consumption, and, moreover, further restrictions that may be imposed by provinces, municipalities and private actors. There is a need for a much stronger research and policy evidence base, particularly from the perspective of harm reduction, to understand the efficacy and impact of strategies to reduce harms, particularly the impact on the most vulnerable in society.




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