Learn from U.S.: Addictions expert
Data on the effects of pot legalization is scarce, crucial
The new federal government should proceed slowly with changing the country’s drug laws, says the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse, which has released a report on the U.S.’s experience legalizing cannabis.
Representatives with the centre, which is funded by Health Canada, met with officials from the two U.S. states to legalize pot for personal use — Colorado and Washington — to learn about what mistakes to avoid.
Rebecca Jesseman, senior adviser for the centre, said in an interview the Canadian addiction experts were given one key message during their visit south of the border: Take your time.
“They said to start incrementally and don’t move too quickly,” on marijuana legalization, she said. “And make sure your decisions and your actions are informed by the best possible evidence available because there are going to be unanticipated consequences.”
Representatives from the substance abuse centre, as well as other Canadian health experts and members of the RCMP, met with U.S. regulators, law-enforcement officials, marijuana producers as well as advocates for and against legalization.
Jesseman said it was important to go on the fact-finding mission because there isn’t a lot reliable data on the American legalization experience and “waiting for scientific publications can take years.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said during the recent election campaign he wanted to legalize marijuana in order to restrict its access to children, reduce the drug market share of organized criminals and lessen the burden on the country’s justice system.
Jesseman said those three points are a good place to start, but she added Trudeau needs to direct his government to begin collecting drug-related data immediately.
She said in order for the government to monitor the success or failure of policies, the country needs better baseline data on current drug habits in order to compare the figures with data collected after marijuana is legalized.
“There are questions that Colo- rado and Washington can’t answer because there wasn’t any baseline data,” Jesseman said. “The greater the extent of work that can be done in advance the better.”
the greater the extent of (research) that can be done in advance the better. rebecca Jesseman
The new federal government should proceed slowly with changing the country’s drug
laws, says the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse, which has released a report on the U.S.’s experience legalizing cannabis.