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Published on October 17th, 2014 | by News Feed

Largest Addiction Center in Canada Calls for Marijuana Legalization

This week’s big marijuana shocker comes from Canada’s largest addiction center. In a surprising move, the Center for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Toronto called for marijuana to be legalized in order to reduce harm and insure it is used safely. The announcement came through the Cannabis Policy Framework report, which regularly addresses current problems with marijuana use and suggested action plans. The recent report shocked many when CAMH suggested that the best option was legalization.

CAMH said their support for legalization was not a light hearted decision. In fact, it was preceded by heavy analysis of social, legal, and medical implications of cannabis use and detailed studies comparing various legislations and how they impacted marijuana use. Dr. Jurgen Rehm is the Director of Social and Epidemiological Research for CAMH and he said the recommendations were carefully made after giving thorough consideration to all of the options.

“Canada’s current system of cannabis control is failing to prevent or reduce the harms association with cannabis use,” Rehm explained. “Base on 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.”

CAMH reports that 40 percent of Canadians have tried marijuana at least once and 10 percent have used it within the past twelve months. Young people are the most likely to use marijuana with 20 percent of people ages 15 to 24 reporting use within the past year. Although the organization is calling for legalization, they also want to see stringent regulations because they claim that weed is not free of potentially harmful side effects.

“Cannabis use is associated with a variety of health harms like problems with cognitive and psychomotor functioning, respiratory issues, cannabis dependence, and mental illness,” Rehm explained. “For this reason any reform of Canada’s system of cannabis control must include a strong focus on prevention and a range of interventions aimed at groups that are at higher risk of harm, including youth and people with a personal or family history of mental illness.”

Even though Rehm is obviously not a fan of recreational weed, he acknowledges that marijuana prohibition is not the best approach. CAMH noted that criminalization does not reduce use and in most circumstances, it actually deters people from seeking out treatment services. It also creates a greater risk for poor quality substances that could be harmful.

The Addiction Center would like to see the Canadian government have sole monopoly on sales to prevent any foul play. “Legalization of cannabis must be governed by strict regulations that ensure it is not sold like other commodities,” Rehm insisted. “This would include a government monopoly on sales, limits on availability, a pricing system that discourages use of higher-harm products, and a ban on marketing.”

Do you think Canada will legalize marijuana in the future?

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